29th August 2002
``Government misled the electorate on Health'' - Ó Caoláin
Responding to the announcement of a Euro15 million government clawback in funding for the National Treatment Purchase Fund, Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the government misled the electorate in the General Election. He said:
``The Treatment Purchase Fund was a desperate effort initiated by the PDs to provide a sticking plaster solution to the hospital waiting list crisis in the run-up to the General Election. This scheme was the basis for the Fianna Fáil promise to end waiting lists within two years - a promise they dropped as soon as the election was over. Now we are told that funding allocated to the scheme is being clawed back by the Department of Finance.
``This is a farce. Why couldn't the Euro15 million be allocated to improve direct provision of hospital services and reduce waiting lists in the public system this year? Public relations not public health drove this Government's health policy before the election and they misled the electorate.
``Coming on top of the increase in the cost of medicines, higher fees for hospital visits and for VHI, these latest cuts make a mockery of the Government's Health Strategy which is now in tatters.
``The failure of the government to properly develop breast cancer treatment as highlighted by medical professionals is also of major concern. The 13 specialist breast units recommended two years ago have not been properly established and the potential for significantly reducing cancer deaths is not being met.''
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