Fianna Fáil TD for Waterford Mary Butler says access to care for patients must be made a priority for health chiefs in the new regional health areas.

Deputy Butler was commenting following the announcement that the HSE would be divided into six new regional health areas. Waterford is in Area C, along with Tipperary South, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford, Wicklow and part of South Dublin.

“While the detail on how these new health areas will function is not clear, the main priority for health bosses should be equal access to care for patients regardless of post code. The current system, which is dominated by long waiting lists, gaps in services, patients on trolleys, late discharges; and an overcrowding crisis is simply not working for patients”, said Deputy Butler.

“Fine Gael’s record in health has been abysmal. In the past eight years we have seen budgets increasing but services deteriorating. Couple that with the huge overspend on the National Children’s Hospital and the knock-on effects of that on day to day services and it’s clear that Fine Gael Ministers have not been good for the health service.

“Services in Waterford have been left behind since the alignment with the South/South West Hospital Group. The question is will this new system deliver for Waterford? Will it deliver 24/7 cardiac care? Will it see a reduction in people on trolleys and shorter waiting lists? Because what we need are vastly improved services.

“A cautious welcome from me, however the devil will be in the detail.

“Fine Gael is fond of glossy media announcements but fails to deliver on its promises. This latest initiative will be judged solely on how it delivers for patients in Waterford and across the South East”, concluded Deputy Butler.