10 January 2008 Edition
Health apartheid "biggest reason for Taoiseach to resign"
“We have been hearing renewed calls for the resignation of the Taoiseach. His financial affairs as raised at the tribunals and the doubts about his tax compliance are serious but they pale into insignificance compared to the public-private apartheid in our health services over which he has presided as Taoiseach since 1997.
“The survey by the Irish College of General Practitioners and the Irish Cancer Society shows that the majority of GPs consider that the ability to pay for private treatment always or usually affects access to referral services. They report longer waiting times for public patients seeking cancer investigation procedures. The scandal is compounded by the fact that only one third of patients with acute symptoms requiring urgent treatment received an appointment on the day of referral.
“Another especially worrying aspect of this survey is lack of a clear definition within the health system of what constitutes an ‘urgent’ patient requiring immediate investigation and the poor communication between GPs and the hospitals to which their patients are referred.
“Once again the apartheid in our health services has been exposed. Over a decade of Government under Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach has not only failed to eliminate this two-tier system but actually reinforced it. This is despite the commitment made in the 2002 Fianna Fáil election manifesto to bring about ‘the end of the two-tier health system’. The Taoiseach has failed the people in this regard and maintained a system that is grossly unjust, unequal and inefficient. On that basis alone he should resign.”