The Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar TD has accused Fianna Fáil of having learned nothing, with its health policy committing to keeping the HSE in place, offering no major reforms and raising serious questions about Billy Kelleher’s plans for the Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance service.
“Fine Gael’s plans to dismantle the HSE and replace it with new Hospital Groups and Community Health Organisations are well underway. But Fianna Fáil wants to stall these reforms and keep the HSE in place. Billy Kelleher clearly has no ambition to reform or replace the HSE and just wants to carry on with things as they are. The HSE is their creation after all.
“Fianna Fáil should also clarify its financial projections for the health service. Excluding supplementary budgets, Fine Gael provided an extra €300 million for health this year, on top of €600 million last year. But Fianna Fáil is actually proposing to provide less than that every year for the next five years. It’s hard to see how this would cater for increasing demographic pressures arising from an ageing population, let alone for improved services.
“I’m also very worried by Fianna Fáil’s decision to raise doubts over the future of Dublin Fire Brigade’s emergency ambulance service. The Fire Brigade operates a very successful ambulance service alongside the HSE in Dublin and Dublin’s fire brigade paramedics are highly trained and much admired by Dubs. They would be a major loss to the city.
“My strong view is that we need proper back-office integration between the two services so patients don’t fall between two stools but I have no intention whatsoever of taking any emergency ambulances away from the Dublin Fire Brigade, which provides an excellent service and which should continue.
“I’d also like Billy to re-assure the 220,000 children and 50,000 older people who already benefit from access to GP care without fees. Would free GP care continue under a Fianna Fáil government? Or would Billy ‘review’ this area like the rest of his minimal plans for primary care?
“There’s also no explanation of how Fianna Fáil would recruit extra consultants, and not even a mention of the long-awaited new consultants’ contract that we will need to attract more consultants to Ireland.”