[Sinn Fein]

16th June 2003

Cabinet must bring forward real health reform not political expediency

Ahead of tomorrow's Cabinet meeting to consider the planned reorganisation of health service structures, Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the Government needed to bring forward ``real reform not political expediency''. He said:

``Whatever plan is agreed at Cabinet tomorrow it will not be real and fundamental reform if it fails to end the two-tier public-private system which creates virtual apartheid in our health services.

``While less bureaucracy would be welcome, structural change in the management of the health system is not enough. There must be real improvement in delivery for health service users at every level.

``The proposed creation of a National Health Services Executive looks like an exercise in political expediency. It would be far too easy for the Government to shift responsibility from the Minister for Health and Children and his Department to such an Executive which would not be directly answerable to the Dáil for its decision.

``A key reform that is needed is the renegotiation of consultants contracts ? this was supposed to be delivered by end of last year under Government's Health Strategy but the Government has failed to meet this commitment.

``There needs to be a Dáil debate this week on the package due to be published by the Government on Wednesday. Otherwise the Dail will once again be consigned to irrelevance while the debate in the media and the wider community proceeds.''

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