Responding to the Taoiseach’s comments on health in an interview with political correspondents, Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher said that neither the Fine Gael leader nor his party have any credibility on health matters.
Deputy Kelleher said, “The fact of the matter is that the past five years have been a period of fiasco, denial and deceit from government in its health policy.
“The introduction of universal health insurance, a key element in his five point plan, has been abandoned. It was uncosted both in 2011 and when the White Paper on it was launched last year. It was deemed unaffordable last month.
“Key targets on waiting lists were missed in 2014, widened in 2015 and missed again by Minister Varadkar.
“On top of this every year we have had spurious budget figures presented to the Dáil. The most spectacular of these was Budget 2014 with its €666 million cuts and the €113 million medical card ‘probity’ measures. Even this month, Minister Varadkar took a HSE Service Plan to cabinet which had a target to cut medical cards by 125,000. The cabinet didn’t like it so the figure was changed to 50,000. That’s how health policy has gone under this government.
“We also should not forget the governments appalling denial and deceit over discretionary medical cards in 2013 and early 2014. Government ministers actually misled the Dáil, telling us that all but a very small minority of the 25,000 plus who lost cards had actually been awarded them on normal medical criteria. This fiction was only abandoned in the wake of panic over the local election results.
“So too were the over 70’s deceived when the government legislated not once but twice to take away medical cards from them. The programme for government commitment to provide more home helps was also broken. There are a million fewer home help hours now than there were in 2010.
Concluding, Deputy Kelleher said that while there may be some headline improvement in some areas in the next two months people should see the big picture.
“Despite an ageing population and the fact that people over 65 years of age more frequently require hospital care the Taoiseach has approved a HSE Service Plan that cuts hospital budgets by €100 million in 2016. The fact is that as the year goes on, and especially after the election, things will get worse. This government and this Taoiseach simply can’t be trusted on health.”