Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD has responded to the massive cuts in the health budget announced today.

He commented, “Despite the rhetoric about prioritising and reforming health services, Minister James Reilly today announced that he will take more than half a billion out of the nation’s health budget next year. Frontline services are bound to suffer in the face of such a massive cut.

“To take one example, the Government claims to be committed to mental health services, yet are going to cut €50 million from disability and mental health services. How can this happen without impacting on the most vulnerable in our society?

“In light of a €543m cut in health spending next year Minister Reilly needs to come clean and spell out the impact this will have on waiting lists and the number of patients being treated in our hospitals.

“The Government’s proposed legislation on the public-private mix in hospitals will result in more public patients being forced to wait longer and will incentivise management to treat more private patients. It will enhance the two-tier system in the health service and will also drive up health insurance costs for those who can still afford it.

“There will be a further reduction of staff employed in our health service and on top of this the Government expects a 10% reduction in overtime and allowances. This will mean units across all areas of the system facing closure as they will not have adequate staffing.

“The Minister continues to preach about a universal health system but following today’s budget announcement, this seems further away than ever.”