Carlow – Kilkenny Bye-Election candidate Bobby Aylward has promised better access to community healthcare for all people in counties Carlow and Kilkenny, regardless of their age or means.
Mr Aylward was speaking following the launch of Fianna Fáil health policy Putting Patients and Services First, which puts a major focus on moving towards enhanced primary care within the community and keeping people out of hospital.
The Fianna Fáil candidate was critical of Fine Gael and Labour plans to hit families with expensive and compulsory Universal Health Insurance bills which will not result in any improved access to healthcare.
“This is about putting patients in Carlow – Kilkenny back at the heart of the health service,” explained Mr Aylward.
“We need quality local healthcare in our communities to ensure that people with chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, arthritis, cancer and heart disease can get expert treatment locally rather than needing to go into hospital for their day-to-day care. It’s also testing and assessing for a range of conditions at a local level to catch illnesses at an earlier stage and keep people out of hospital.
“I am extremely concerned that this Government is taking the health service in the wrong direction to the detriment of patients. The focus is being shifted away from the direct provision of quality care to simply regulating and overseeing healthcare providers from a distance. This is not the answer. I strongly believe that the State must be actively and directly involved in providing healthcare to all citizens.
“Fianna Fáil is planning to expand free GP care, ensuring that those who need it most and cannot afford it are given first priority. We are also committed to a new role for community pharmacists allowing them to provide additional vaccination services and to allow people to go to their chemist to be treated for minor ailments. We will abolish the €2.50 prescription charge over two years and reduce the threshold for the Drug Payment Scheme to €120 a month. Fine Gael and Labour pledged to abolish prescription charges and within a month of taking office, but instead they have increased them fivefold. Fianna Fáil is promising will get rid of these charges.”
Mr Aylward went on to say that major steps must be taken to change how the HSE does its business. He has called on the Government to explain how they intend to tackle inefficiencies within the HSE and put patients back at the centre of the agenda.
“I want to see the HSE place greater emphasis on the service rather than the executive. It needs to be much more responsive and show a greater understanding of patient concerns. Where is the Government plan to tackle record waiting lists? Waiting lists have rocketed out of control since the abolition of the National Treatment Purchase Fund. Fianna Fáil wants to reactivate the NTPF and set an ultimate target that all patients who need hospital treatment will get it within six months,” Mr Aylward said.
“This plan is about ensuring much greater access to quality care for all within the community here in Carlow – Kilkenny and reducing the burden on acute hospitals so that people in need of acute care get the treatment they need much quicker.”