Reilly and Shortall meet amid healthcare centre row


Minister for Health Dr James Reilly and the department's junior minister spoke today after the pair clashed publicly over the location of healthcare centres.

Labour Minister of State for Primary Care Róisín Shortall said she would be meeting Dr Reilly again later this week.

She reiterated her view that it was important to ensure limited resources were spent in the best possible way and "in in a transparent way".

Resource-allocation models were used in other countries, she said, adding the entire country had been profiled, "and it would be very foolish not to take heed of all of that important data that's available to us".

Meanwhile, she expressed "surprise" at Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar’s questioning of the affordability of free GP care. Ms Shortall said the position on the matter was set down very clearly in the Programme for Government.

The ongoing row over the decision by Dr Reilly to add two towns in his constituency to a priority list for primary care centres was described as "a distraction" by Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald.

“I believe we should be really talking about and practical implementation of it, so I do think it’s a distraction, I think we need to get on with delivering primary care centres” she told reporters today.

Ms Fitzgerald said she understood why Dr Reilly raised the number of primary care centres from 20 to 35.

“He has the support of his colleagues in doing that. If you want to deliver 20 it makes absolute sense that you have a list of 35,” she said.

It was important to “get on with the job of delivering primary care centres, that’s what Minister Shortall wants to see, that's what Minister Reilly wants to see, and that's our policy,” she said.

She did not wish to comment on the remark by Mr Varadkar that Dr Reilly's decision to make two location additions “looked like stroke politics”.

Last night Mr Varadkar said, while the reality may be different, “it does look like it. I don’t know if it is or not”.

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