Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly says it very clear from the new HSE Service Plan that the difficult conditions being experienced in our hospitals will persist in 2019

“It is simply extraordinary that on Budget Day the Minister for Health could say that we are in the era of Sláintecare, yet two months later approve a HSE Service Plan that will reduce the number of elective inpatient treatments”, said Deputy Donnelly.

“The Minister may say that the National Treatment Purchase Fund will reduce in-patient lists further and that is welcome, but expanding the Fund is no justification for reducing public hospital services. When Fianna Fáil sought the restoration of the Fund in 2016 we saw its role as an assistant rather than a substitute.

“The Service Plan shows that the HSE missed virtually all of its acute hospital targets during 2018. The long waits that the over 75s endured in Emergency Departments is the most glaring example of this failure. Similarly in relation to outpatient appointments it is just not good enough for the Minister for Health to approve a target for one in five people to wait more than a year to be seen.

“At least there is a target of 100% for acute hospitals to be implementing requirements for the CPE superbug screening but it is scandalous that only 36% were compliant in 2018.

“Overall the tone of the plan seems to be maintenance not expansion. Take primary care for example. The Programme for Government promises a decisive shift, but funding for new developments in primary care in 2019 is just €4.5 million – just over half of one percent of the budget allocated.

“One thing is clear though. With this government Sláintecare will be a long time coming.”