Dáil debates

Wednesday, 15 May 2024

Delivering Universal Healthcare: Statements


2:30 pm

Photo of Ruairi Ó MurchúRuairi Ó Murchú (Louth, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

A considerable number of people have said it long before me that we have not seen the movement that we need in delivering Sláintecare and universal healthcare. There is no TD who has not dealt with absolute disaster scenarios regarding people who have just gone through cancer treatment who have suddenly had their medical card rescinded. Constituents go to their TD, the TD goes to the Minister or makes contact and it gets sorted but that is not the way the system should work. That is what leads to dissatisfaction with State services, where people think they are getting a raw deal. We need to make those moves all together.

Medical cards and the idea of universal healthcare is something on which we have reached agreement in terms of where we need to go. However, what we are dealing with at this point in time is not what we need to be dealing with. We have straightforward proposals including expanding the number of medical cards by 400,000, cutting the drug payments scheme limit to €50, reducing the cap and working to remove car parking charges, and delivering a transparent framework of income-based entitlements that sets out the path to universal coverage. That is really where we need to get to and that would diminish the need for private health insurance. Then we could see a greater level of investment in the public system, including the 3,000 hospital and community beds that are needed to make hospitals accessible and to deal with some of the issues. We also need to deal with workforce planning. We need an all-Ireland plan.

I will talk once again about dentists. I previously dealt with Mr. Fintan Hourihan of the Irish Dental Association. He told me of engagements with officials from the Minister's office but he said that there needs to be a replacement for the dental treatment services scheme, DTSS. It is very difficult for people on medical cards to get any sort of dental care and we really need to see follow through. Mr. Hourihan said that he last spoke to the Minister in March or April of last year and while there is some sort of official engagement, we need to see progress. The ball is in the Minister's court and he must issue an invite to everyone to sit down and put in place a system that works. I have spoken many times about the disaster in orthodontic services in the Louth County Hospital. I have seen movement in grade five patients, which are the more serious surgical cases. I will be following up on some sub-categories but that is positive. I also brought other issues to the Minister's attention but what frightens me is a case I am currently working on. A woman contacted my office and said that her son currently has braces on his teeth. She has no idea when they will be tightened to ensure they are working or when they will be taken off-----


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