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29 November 2007 Edition

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Time to dump government's rotten health policy

As An Phoblacht goes to press, 26 County Health Minister Mary Harney is facing a vote of no confidence in the Dáil. Although Harney will no doubt win this vote, thanks to the sheep-like reliability of Fianna Fáil backbenchers from across the state, the fact remains that there is no public confidence in the Minister for Health and no public confidence in the policy and management of our health services by the Fianna Fáil/Green/Progressive Democrats Government.
The Irish healthcare scandal has most recently seen women in the Midlands misdiagnosed after cancer screening and then deplorably treated by the Health Service Executive.
Harney and all her Cabinet colleagues are responsible for the fundamentally flawed policies and gross mismanagement that has led to such situations. Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats have had over a decade to deliver the ‘world-class health service’ they promised. Instead they have maintained the two-tier system that is riddled with inequity and inefficiency.
It is deeply ironic that Professor Tom Keane, the new Interim Director of the National Cancer Control Programme here, should have come from British Columbia in Canada. As one eminent commentator on the Irish health services has stated:
“Canada has a strongly egalitarian, one-tier system of health care, which delivers results; life expectancy in Canada exceeds the EU average by over a year for women and nearly two years for men.”
That system is in total contrast to the two-tier system that exists in the 26 Counties. As the Irish Congress of Trade Unions states in its study How Ireland Cares:
“The existing state subsidies and tax incentives and the existing organisation of the health care system subsidise private care and discriminate against those who depend on the public system.”
Minister Harney is reported to have complained to an RTÉ executive about the number of times leading oncologist Professor John Crown was appearing on the station. This was in the days before he was dropped from a Late Late Show panel. Far more interesting than the row over the TV programme was what Professor Crown himself has been saying. In a recent interview in An Phoblacht he was asked what he considered the biggest single deficiency in the health service and he stated:
“The single biggest deficiency is inequity. It is deliberately engineered. We have a two-tier system because the people running it want a two-tier system. The number of people availing of the public system will decline. The number of people going private is getting bigger.”
That is a message the Minister and her Cabinet colleagues do not want the public to hear. They are privatising by stealth while pretending to defend the public health system. The present government’s healthcare policy and its management of our health services are the rotten foundations upon which so much else rests and which permeates the whole system. It is time, not just for Mary Harney, but also for this government’s rotten health policy, to be dumped.

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

Buy An Phoblacht magazine here

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