Shortall unhappy with disabled cuts
Minister of State for Primary Care Róisín Shortall said she was very unhappy people had had to protest in wheelchairs outside Government Buildings in order to reverse a €10 million cut to services for the disabled.
She said there had been “poor communication” from Minister for Health James Reilly’s office about the proposals.
“I’m not happy at all that people were in wheel-chairs, that people were outside Government Buildings because they felt they had to protest.
“I very much welcome the decision that has been taken to revisit these cuts. It is unfortunate that they were made in the first place and I welcome the fact the Government has changed its position on that now.”
Asked when she heard about the planned cuts she said: “I got a call from the HSE about an hour before the press briefing on Thursday. Yes, there was poor communication, but that is absolutely a secondary matter.
“The most important thing is that we deliver health services to people who need them and that we do that in the most effective way from a healthcare point of view and in the most cost-effective way. And cutting frontline services is not the way to do that. We simply cannot continue to cut our way out of problems in the health service.
“We need reform. That reform is provided for in the Programme for Government.
[Reform] is about changing the model of care, moving the focus away from the most expensive area in the acute hospitals, moving it back to primary care and to community care. That is the only sustainable approach.”
Asked whether the planned cuts to home-help services should now also be reversed, she said:
“We need to switch the focus away from the most expensive form of healthcare in the acute hospitals and we need to concentrate services at a community and primary care level.”
“I think it’s very important we move forward now and start tackling the big ticket items in health - those issues which are responsible for the big deficit in health services, those issues which were committed to in the Budget last year.”
She said she was talking principally about the cost of medicines. It was not sustainable to continue paying more for medicine than almost any other country in Europe.
Vested interests in the health services also needed to be addressed, she added.