Tuesday, 21 June 2016
I thank those Senators who generously congratulated me on my new role as Minister of State with responsibility for public health promotion. As this is my first time in the Twenty-fifth Seanad, I extend my sincere congratulations to every Member. I am looking forward to working positively and constructively with them in the years to come. Members will note the optimism in the term, “years to come”. In politics, one needs to be positive and optimistic.
I am pleased to have heard most of the excellent contributions from across the Seanad and the Dáil regarding the committee on the future of health care and the health service. The committee will look carefully at the future of our health care service. I welcome the establishment of the committee, a key commitment in the programme for the partnership Government. Universal health care is not just a policy to implement or change for the sake of change. It is a direction and a journey towards a better and fairer health service for all of our citizens. Given the year that is in it, it behoves us to follow through on the ideal of cherishing all of the children of the nation equally and to create a vision for a universal single-tier service where patients are treated on the basis of health need rather than on ability to pay. While this task is challenging, this committee is a great opportunity to bring us further on the road to universal health care.
I have taken note of the questions from the last two speakers and will refer them to the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, for a direct response. I also noted the comments about the committee being a joint committee in which Senators would have an opportunity to participate. I will ensure the Minister is directly advised of that. The Department will be happy to assist and advise the Houses of the Oireachtas as appropriate. I look forward to the outcomes of the committee’s work and wish it well in its deliberations.