Dáil debates

Wednesday, 15 May 2024

Delivering Universal Healthcare: Statements


2:10 pm

Photo of Denise MitchellDenise Mitchell (Dublin Bay North, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

The Government has paid lip service to Sláintecare but is miles behind on its delivery. The issue of affordability and a two-tier approach to healthcare is still live. Medical card thresholds have not been reviewed in decades, leaving thousands squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis. We have all heard stories of elderly people who would rather stay at home than attend emergency departments because their previous experiences in EDs was horrific.

The Government's failure to address issues in staffing is having a detrimental impact on patient outcomes. Dental care is inaccessible, with people waiting months for basic procedures. Universal healthcare is not just about affordability; it is about accessibility. Existing entitlements can be worthless when medical card holders are struggling to get access to a dentist or GP.

Sinn Féin's workforce plan would tackle the shortages in GPs and dentists and in multidisciplinary primary care teams. In our alternative budget we proposed measures such as capping the drugs payment scheme at €50 per month, the expansion of medical cards to more than 400,000 additional people and the abolition of car parking charges in hospitals. We need to reduce the reliance on private health insurance by investing in the public system, including 3,000 hospital beds and community beds. Finally, we need to look at our healthcare on an all-island basis with a view to having an all-island system going forward. It is time people started to see action that makes a real difference on the ground in terms of access and affordability for all.


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