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14 June 2007 Edition

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Greens should reject Programme unless it scraps co-location

As An Phoblacht goes to press, the news that is emerging about the nature of the deal concluded between the leaderships of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party is increasingly negative.
It appears that the Green Party leadership has swallowed whole  an agenda driven by Fianna Fáil and the PDs and have allowed those parties off the hook on a whole range of issues that required urgent action for meaningful political progress to have been made. Foremost among those issues is that of hospital co-location.
Comments this week by the Chief executive of the Health Services Executive Brendan Drumm describing co-location as ‘competition’ for the public hospital service has demonstrated more than ever the need for the plan to be scrapped.
Drumm has now stated that he sees co-location as a competitor to the public hospital system and that people should be ‘glad of competition’. This totally contradicts the claims of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Health Minister Mary Harney that co-location would complement the public hospital system. They have claimed that it would ‘free up’ 1,000 additional beds in public hospitals. Brendan Drumm says additional beds are not needed. Mary Harney was unable to tell the Dáil how many beds would be provided in each of the co-located hospitals – totally belying the promise of 1,000 beds.
As Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Spokesperson on Health Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said on Wednesday, the concept of competition in hospital services is an obscenity. Healthcare is not a commodity like cars or beauty products. It is a vital public service to which everyone is entitled based on need and need alone. Co-location sees the government using public money and public land to subsidise the private for-profit healthcare industry, reinforcing the two-tier system.
The Co-location plan is a mess and should be consigned to the dustbin by the 30th Dáil
Delegates to the Green Party conference should reject the proposed Programme for Government if it does not totally dispense with  the hospital co-location plan. The Green Party Election Manifesto is committed to ‘scrap immediately the decision to subsidise building of private hospitals on public land’. This commitment should be honoured.

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