Dáil debates

Wednesday, 15 May 2024

Delivering Universal Healthcare: Statements


2:20 pm

Photo of Réada CroninRéada Cronin (Kildare North, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

Under this Government, healthcare has become pure hell for those working in the system and those depending on it. Practically every day in North Kildare, people arrive in my office or contact me on the phone in tears due to waiting lists or delays. Since the pain clinic in St. James's was limited so that the space could be used for accident and emergency services, people in agony have been left high and dry. In desperation, I contacted the CEO of the HSE for an appointment for an elderly constituent whose body was contorted with pain. I am glad to say that, following subsequent contact with St. James's, she has received an appointment and I thank the kind and humane staff of the hospital for looking after her. A former member of the Defence Forces in my constituency is in agonising pain. I spoke to him on the phone last week and was not the better for it afterwards. He was very brave but it would put the heart across you to listen to the pain in his voice. The Government is not delivering universal healthcare; rather, it is delivering universal chaos in healthcare.

Medical card eligibility is stranded where it was 20 years ago, with no consideration for soaring rents, rising inflation or wages. The Government might ask what the point is in granting people an entitlement to services when they are simply not available. It is almost impossible to see a GP. Forget about seeing a dentist if you are on a medical card. People have a better chance of getting tickets to Taylor Swift, but there is nothing swift about the Department of Health at the moment. It is never swift to act or deliver. It is not swift about taking responsibility and it is certainly not swift about care.

I agree with the Minister, Deputy Donnelly, on one thing. Delivering universal healthcare also means respecting our immigrant healthcare workers, whether they are surgeons or deliver care to elderly people in nursing homes. There are older people in nursing homes because people cannot mind their parents or grandparents as they are working every hour God sends to pay rent or a mortgage. Immigrant workers are human beings, not service providers, and have been pushed to breaking point and deserve our respect and gratitude.

Sinn Féin has a plan for health and it is a good one. We would provide more medical cards and access to multidisciplinary teams, cut the drugs payment to €50 and cut and cap park charges with a view to removing them. My time is up, and I wish to God that time was up on the Government.


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