Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has questioned the Taoiseach’s judgement following his expression of confidence in Health Minister James Reilly today. Enda Kenny confirmed his continued support for Reilly in the Dáil following questions from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin this afternoon.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “The Taoiseach’s expression of confidence in Minister Reilly demonstrates the Taoiseach’s disconnect from the reality of our health services in 2014. Since taking over the post, Minister Reilly has presided over a shambolic budget process, submitting inadequate estimates in the first place and pushing ahead with a budget that simply was never fit for purpose. According to the Minister himself, the HSE is reporting a net deficit of €158m at the end of May, while the Department of Health predicts it could hit €500m by the end of 2014. His complete mismanagement of the health budget not only makes life more difficult for frontline staff, it also puts patient safety at risk. We saw that in the recent report into mental house services in the South East.
“Minister Reilly’s handling of the medical card crisis demonstrated an acute lack of empathy for people living with serious illnesses and disabilities. He, along with the Taoiseach and his other Cabinet colleagues, denied and ignored the escalating trauma and anxiety that people were subjected to following the Government’s policy to remove medical cards from the most vulnerable in society in a so-called “review”. Despite Fianna Fáil consistently raising the issue over the past two years, Minister Reilly and the Taoiseach chose to refute claims that there had been any change in policy.
“The Taoiseach’s expression of confidence in this Health Minister will be a source for concern for all those who work within the health service and who assumed that new leadership would be coming to the department with the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle.