Thursday, 14 December 2017
Order of Business
Like others, I wish everyone a happy Christmas, especially the staff who support us all so well.
Senator Ó Céidigh referred to the retention of doctors, nurses and teachers. We are facing a crisis in general practice, with a large tranche of doctors set to retire in the coming years, an increasing population and, rightly, greater delivery being asked of primary care. I welcome the Minister's decision to give medical cards to carers, who do invaluable work and go to great lengths to support the ones they love and keep them at home. I hope that he will also put the resources in place to allow doctors to do that work. I have encountered more doctors closing their lists because of the workload. They cannot cope. We need a proper new contract as quickly as possible and we must address these issues. As the Senator stated, many of our younger doctors are leaving the country, so we are getting caught at both ends.
In the context of carers, I wish to raise an important issue that I have raised previously, namely, pensions. Some 40,000 people have been unjustly discriminated against by the 2012 Act. They are mainly women who took time off work to care for their children, the elderly and other loved ones. The Ministers, Deputies Donohoe and Regina Doherty, are working on this matter, but I encourage them to expedite their work and rectify this injustice as quickly as possible in the new year. It reflects badly on our society that we discriminate against the very people who go the extra mile to look after, keep at home and support those whom we all love and appreciate. I hope the Ministers will move on this as quickly as possible in the new year.