[Sinn Fein]

6th May 2003

Patients suffer after ``year of Government lies and cuts'' - Ó Caoláin

Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as ``appalling'' the closure of 250 beds in the five Dublin teaching hospitals. He said the decision comes after ``a year of lies and cutbacks by Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrats'' and that the Government had shown itself totally incapable of providing a proper health service. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``The bed cuts in the major Dublin hospitals are appalling and are a direct result of this government's underfunding and mismanagement of the health services. These massive health cutbacks come a year after Fianna Fáil lied to the electorate in the run-up to the General Election, promising the end of hospital waiting lists within two years and the extension of medical card coverage to a further 200,000 people. Instead we have had a series of cutbacks with health boards unable to maintain services at 2002 levels, let alone expand them as falsely promised by this Government. Patients are now suffering after a year of lies and cuts.

``The bed cuts in Dublin hospitals will have a knock-on effect throughout the State with people who have to attend these hospitals from outside the capital being thrown further back on the waiting lists.

``The government's so-called health policy is in tatters. Health Minister Mícheál Martin has publicly stated that his colleague Minister for Finance McCreevy does not see OEthe bigger picture' on health. The Taoiseach has remained silent while two of his senior ministers are at sixes and sevens on this most vital issue of public policy.

``At the weekend we had the revelation that Minister McCreevy is a member of a ¤35,000 per year exclusive golf club. We can be certain that neither he nor any of his wealthy associates at Carton House Golf Club will be affected by these cuts while the most vulnerable people in our society are made to suffer yet again.''

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