Health cutbacks are part of the privatisation agenda

The proposed cuts to the health budget under active consideration by the cabinet, as outlined by the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly TD are, according to a Workers Party spokesperson, part of the ongoing privatisation agenda of the government.

Mr Padraig Mannion, health spokesperson for the Workers' Party stated: "The proposed savage cutbacks leaked by Dr Reilly, show that this government is 100% committed to the discredited Progressive Democrat philosophy of the destruction of a viable public health service and its replacement by a private profit service. It is now patently obvious that the dogs on Adenauerstrasse know the contents of the Irish budget before the Dáil or the Irish people do".

"It is quite clear" continued Mr Mannion "that if 40 HSE-run community nursing units for older people are closed then the patients will have to transfer to private facilities Elderly people are now, for all intents and purposes, being directed straight into the private profit nursing home and convalescent home sector. This new step, allied to the tax breaks and tax incentives already enjoyed by private hospital and nursing home operators, is another large and direct subsidy from the taxpayer to this private profit sector".

"Over the last few years we have seen the decimation of benefits available through PRSI, and vicious attacks on the availability of the medical cards as well as curtailment of services and the introduction of the Harney prescription charges. There has been a concerted effort, from the highest levels of government and the EU commission, to denigrate the Public Health Service and promote the private health insurance as the panacea for all our woes. Even the decamping of BUPA to whence they came, and the implosion of Quinn Healtcare, has not deterred the promoters of this profoundly anti-people policy".

"The Workers Party totally rejects the dogma that there must be cutbacks to the existing HSE budget either to balance the national books or to satisfy our overlords in the EU/ECB/IMF troika. If the huge subsidy to private hospitals, private insurance, private consultants, and private nursing homes were ended then well in excess of €1 billion would become available to the state. Furthermore if the HSE collected the money due to it from private insurance companies; abolished the practice of consultants using public hospitals for private practice; ceased utilising expensive agencies to employ temporary nurses; and engaged in a meaningful fashion with the nursing and junior hospital doctor unions then Ireland could have a top rank public health service available to all citizens"

Issued: 22 Nov 2011

Peace, Work, Democracy, and Class Politics