[Sinn Fein]

30th August 2002

MacManus accuses government of lying to electorate

Sinn Fein Councillor Seán MacManus has accused the government of lying to the electorate during last May's election campaign and of breaking promises central to the delivery of the national health Strategy.

In a statement to the Leitrim observer Councillor MacManus reserved his strongest criticism of the many recent Government cutbacks for their failure to deliver a better health service.

``One of the major policy items trumpeted by the outgoing Fianna Fail/ Progressive Democrat Government was its long awaited National Health Strategy. This strategy and its promises to deliver increased funding and staffing to the health service was a prime reason in the re-election of the coalition. Central to the health strategy was a clear commitment to provide an initial ¤25 million to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) so that waiting lists would be reduced. Last week, barley 3 months after the election, the Government withdrew ¤15 million of the initial ¤25 million.

``As everyone knows, there are thousands of people who have been waiting several years for operations. Under the NTPF we were told waiting lists would end within 2 years. The method by which this would occur would be that the ¤25 million would purchase private treatment for up to 10,000 public patients by the end of next year.

``It is now obvious that with the withdrawal of the ¤15 million there is no possibility of all those on waiting lists receiving prompt treatment. This is a scandalous situation. Why couldn't this ¤15 million have been allocated to improve direct provision of hospital services and reducing waiting lists this year? Public relations not public health drove the Governments health policy before the election and it is now clear that they lied to the electorate. Coming on top of the failure to provide 800 promised new jobs in health, the increase in the costs of medicine, higher fees for hospital visits and for VHI, this latest cut makes a mockery of the Health Strategy, which is clearly now in tatters.

While many who were fooled by the lies of the coalition will be able to teach them an electoral lesson next time round, this is scant comfort for those long-suffering people waiting years for treatment. Under this travesty of a Government, when will their suffering end?'' concluded Councillor MacManus.

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