Fianna Fáil General Election candidate Senator Marc Mac Sharry has branded as “a fantasy”, the HSE’s service plan for next year.  The plan, which details how €13bn allocated to the HSE will be spent in 2016, will see reduced services, longer waiting lists and cuts to medical cards.

Senator Mac Sharry commented, “Once again we see the Government presiding over a series of cuts in the health service, which will see the sickest and most vulnerable targeted.  The money allocated for 2016 falls far short of what’s needed to run a functioning health service and will see a deterioration of the already unacceptable conditions which patients and staff are experiencing day in day out in our overcrowded and underfunded hospitals.

“Fine Gael and Labour have sanctioned another raid on medical cards, only reducing their target of 125,000 to 50,000 because they fear a backlash on polling day.  The “savings” that will be made from the removal of these medical cards will fail to make any dent in budget allocation that is needed to run an effective health system.

“Years of bogus budgets have brought us to a situation whereby people are forced to wait for hours, and in some cases days, on trolleys in our Emergency Departments.  Minister Leo Varadkar has been forced to change the goal posts on outpatient waiting times, and even at that, he has now admitted that some people will not be seen within the new 15 month timeframe.  This is completely unacceptable and yet the Minister does nothing about it.

“This service plan will do nothing to improve services for patients.  It will struggle to maintain the current chaotic system, which is already buckling under the pressure.  Minister Varadkar has failed to take charge of the situation, preferring to act as an impartial observer.  This is no longer sustainable. He has frustrated patients and frontline staff and unless urgent action is taken, the situation will spiral out of control”.