Dáil sets up committee to produce all-party health plan

Roísín Shortall calls for NHS-type model

Roísín Shortall: said the essential problem with the Irish health service was the absence of an overall coherent plan

Roísín Shortall: said the essential problem with the Irish health service was the absence of an overall coherent plan

 

Social Democrat TD Róisín Shortall has called for all-party agreement on a long-term plan for health services along the lines of the British national health service (NHS).

Ms Shortall, a former minister of state for health, said the essential problem with the Irish health service was the absence of an overall, coherent plan.

She compared it to what happened in Britain after the second World War when the Labour and Tory parties agreed on the NHS. “While there have been ups and downs with that service over the years, I think, by and large, people in the United Kingdom are very proud of the NHS and they would not for a moment contemplate its abolition. That applies in the political arena as well.’’

Long-term vision

Oireachtas

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the health services faced many challenges.

“Moreover, the programme for partnership government acknowledges that we have an ageing population who are living longer and whose needs will become greater and more diverse. We also have the highest birth rate in Europe. ’’

Mr Harris said the work of the new committee would mean members of the public and those working in the service could have a sense of certainty that there was a long- term strategy agreed by a political and, he hoped, societal consensus that would not change irrespective of the make-up of the next Dáil.

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said the constant obsession with structural reforms had undermined confidence and morale among those who provided healthcare services across the country.

“Fianna Fáil is committed to a national public health system,’’ he added.

Two-tier system

Labour TD Seán Sherlock said his party had a positive attitude on the committee’s potential and would work productively with it.

“If we are honest, we can reasonably assume there is much common ground between all of us on the needs of citizens,’’ he said.

Independent TD Michael Harty said the Irish health service needed a long-term vision.

“It needs a framework that can build an efficient, effective and functioning health service.”