Dáil debates

Wednesday, 15 May 2024

Delivering Universal Healthcare: Statements


1:50 pm

Photo of Louise O'ReillyLouise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I will not say I listened with amusement, but I listened with one eyebrow raised to Deputies talking about what happened in 2009. You would nearly think the accident and emergency departments closed themselves when we know it was the Minister's party, Fianna Fáil, that closed them. They did not close on their own, as appears to have been suggested.

I also listened to the Minister's remarks at the start, and he was dead right to pay tribute to our healthcare workers. They are the glue that holds our health services together. I was privileged to represent healthcare workers for years. They deserve his kind words but, more than that, they deserve to have the recruitment embargo lifted. It was wrong when Fianna Fáil first introduced it in 2007. It was wrong when the Labour Party and Fine Gael continued it, and it is wrong again today. If the Minister does not believe me, he should talk to healthcare workers, and they will tell him. No amount of spin is going to change that. The recruitment embargo is a very poor way to manage staff in the health service. Primary care is the bedrock of universal healthcare. The failure to develop or invest in primary care is apparent right across my constituency. In Balbriggan, County Dublin, a primary care centre was built in fairly controversial circumstances. However, the absence of diagnostics like a scanner or X-ray machine means that my constituents must go to Drogheda or Beaumont hospitals, where they join the many people who wait to be seen by the staff who are absolutely at the end of their tethers because they are overworked. If you live in north County Dublin and need to see a dietician, there is not a waiting list because there is not a dietician. There is no point going on a waiting list because there is nobody to see you. When we look at statistics that tell us eating disorders are on the rise and see how deficient primary care in this area is, it is easy to see why that is happening. We need a funded workforce plan. I fear, actually I know, that it will take a change of government to deliver that.


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