Shortall claims healthcare reform blocked by Reilly
Former junior health minister Róisín Shortall has claimed her attempts to reform the health service were blocked by Minister for Health James Reilly and she said his failure to tackle "big ticket issues" including consultants pay and drug costs would lead to "the most appalling cuts" in the upcoming Budget.
Ms Shortall questioned Dr Reilly's commitment to the programme for Government and denied that there was a personality clash with her senior colleague.
A spokesman for the Minister flatly rejected her claims describing them as "inaccurate". He said it was the former Labour junior minister who had questioned the programme for Government and claimed that she had questioned an agreed element of the programme which deals with health insurance when addressing the Dail last week. .
Speaking today, Ms Shortall said her resignation had been coming for some time.
"There was a situation developing over a number of months, where it was quite clear that James Reilly and I weren't on the same page. I don't believe he really subscribes to the programme for government, and there were fundamental differences."
Ms Shortall said there had been a "drift" in commitments made for the health service and said Dr Reilly was going in a "whole different direction" toward the American, business-based style of healthcare, and that her attempts at reform were "running into the sand".
"There are choices there," she said. "You can tackle the unacceptable drugs bill, we’re paying far too much for drugs or you can cut home help services. You an tackle consultants pay and put a cap on pay or you can impose charges on people with medical cards, There are all kinds of choices.
She said Dr Reilly had "signed up to a health budget which could have been balanced this year if he had followed through on the commitments he had given to tackle those big ticket items within health. You have insurance costs, drug costs, consultants pay. And the budget is predicated on him doing that but he hasn’t and now we are coming to the end of the year and we are going to be facing the most appalling cuts because of his failure to tackle those issues."
She said Dr Reilly was “very much about the insurance companies running the health service and privatising large parts of the health service”.
Speaking on RTÉ radio, Ms Shortall also said she felt "let down" by the Labour Party over the issue, and that she resigned the party whip due to lack of backing. "If the Labour Party isn't about allocation of resources according to need . . . what is it about?"
Ms Shortall claimed there had been a "certain closing of ranks" and "certain attempts to smear" in sections of the media.