TDs now advising constituents on foreign health entitlements, Dáil told

Fianna Fáil’s Bill Kelleher says it provides evidence of the crisis in services

Mr Kelleher said he had been told by one senior hospital manager the only programme in place for winter was “the flu vaccine and prayers’’. Photograph: iStock

Mr Kelleher said he had been told by one senior hospital manager the only programme in place for winter was “the flu vaccine and prayers’’. Photograph: iStock

 

Fine Gael Ministers and TDs are now advising constituents on how they can avail of EU cross-border health treatment, Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher has claimed.

He told the Dáil on Thursday it was evidence the health services were in crisis.

“Deputies are running around the countryside dispersing leaflets advising people that the only way one can get treated is in another jurisdiction because of the Government’s failure,’’ he added.

Mr Kelleher said he had been told by one senior hospital manager the only programme in place for winter was “the flu vaccine and prayers’’.

He said all the spin had to stop because people across the country were waiting inordinate periods of time for treatment while in agony.

Mr Kelleher referred to the case of an elderly man, in chronic pain, waiting for two years for an appointment, although his case had been marked urgent.

He said every TD in the House could refer to similar cases.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said it seemed reasonable that people be told about their rights as EU citizens.

Nobody wanted to see anybody waiting a day longer than necessary for medical treatment, she added.

Every effort was being made to deal with waiting lists and the trend was going in the right direction.

She accepted, she said, that was no help for the person referred to by Mr Kelleher.

Ms Fitzgerald said real money was being put in place to deal with the 500 more operations for those who needed hip and cateract and other procedures by the end of the year.

She said €1 milllion was being allocated weekly to deal with waiting lists, while the National Treatment Purchase Fund would have an allocation next year of €55m, which was a huge increase.

“We accept that people are waiting too long,’’ Ms Fitzgerald added.