Sinn Fein’s Wicklow General Election candidate Cllr John Brady has said that the government has attempted to brush the healthcare crisis under the carpet in Budget 2016. He stated that the measures introduced by the Fine Gael and Labour Party government do very little to improve frontline and equality of access to health services.
Councillor Brady added that the lack of vision Budget 2016 will only compound the problems faced by patients in Wicklow which followed from the closure of the A&E department in St Columcille's hospital and the consequent overcrowding at St. Vincent's Hospital.
"The Government has attempted to brush the healthcare crisis under the carpet with the measures introduced in Budget 2016. They have gone for a headline-grabbing measure by extending free GP Care to children under the age of twelve. Any extension to this scheme should have been done on the basis of income and medical need.
"We have to remember that this government promised to extend free GP care to the entire population, starting with the holders of long term illness cards. They have long abandoned this commitment to those with chronic illness and disability.
"Instead of investing in improving frontline delivery and improving equality of access in our hospitals and A&E departments, this government has decided to only invest a paltry €18 million in our health system. This is an astonishing decision when you consider the scale of the overcrowding crisis and the fact that so many people have to wait years before they can access vital treatments and procedures.
"It is clear that the problems faced by the people of Wicklow, in the area of healthcare, will only be compounded by the lack of vision in Budget 2016.
"In their first three budgets Fine Gael and Labour cut €2.5b from the health budget. In 2013 they also closed the A&E department in St. Columcille’s hospital. 21,000 patients annually used that critical service. It was vital service for the people of Wicklow. These patients have been forced upon the already overwhelmed St. Vincent's Hospital, where the nurses are currently engaged in a work to rule due to their concerns about patient safety and the trolley crisis there.
"There is nothing in this budget to address the crisis in our hospitals. There is only an additional €18m new health spend after demographics and a pay restoration.
"Sinn Féin would have allocated an additional €383m for healthcare. This would provide for 1900 new positions within the system and gone some way to addressing the unequal, two-tier delivery of healthcare in this state.”