Alex White expresses confidence in Reilly and HSE

Junior minister says free GP care for all is ‘absolutely the intention of the Government’

Alex White: confidence in James Reilly and the HSE

Alex White: confidence in James Reilly and the HSE

Mon, Oct 21, 2013, 13:54

Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White has expressed confidence in Minister for Health James Reilly.

Speaking at the launch of a patients’ group for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Mr White said he also had confidence in the HSE in coming back with a spending plan over the next three weeks for next year despite reported budget cuts of €666 million.

“We have been allocated figures in the budget by the Government. We now have a big task to ensure that we deliver a health services that the people of Ireland need within the context of those challenging figures,” he said.

“The health services will struggle with the kinds of allocations that have been given. These are the people of Ireland’s health services. They are not just run by one person.

“Government and the whole population have an interest in ensuring that it works properly and we are living at a time of huge financial constraint. I think we will ensure within the coming weeks that we set out a plan,” he said.

Mr White used the launch to reiterate his belief that the provision of GP care for all will be achieved within the lifetime of the present Government despite misgivings expressed by the fellow junior minister at health Kathleen Lynch who believes there are doubts that it can be achieved.

Mr White responded: “That commitment remains. The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have reiterated it. Absolutely it is the intention of the Government. We would fools to deny that there are financial constraints facing the Government, but we must get a start on this long-term project so we are not back here year after year talking about a crisis.

“It is a legitimate question to ask - is this the right time to do it? We are under huge financial pressure. How do we set aside funding for free GP care when we are under such pressure in the budget?

“I say we can’t afford to wait any longer to begin to change the focus in our health system away from acute services and curing ill people, into prevention in the community and primary care.”