Free GP promise ‘politicisation’ of health service – Renua
Party will not ‘dangle any so-called freebies’ to electorate ahead of general election
Renua leader Lucinda Creighton said: ‘We have to be rigorous in how we prioritise where resources are directed, and for us it’s about the most vulnerable the sickest in our society.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
Renua leader Lucinda Creighton has criticised Government promises of free GP care, branding them part of the “politicisation” of the health service.
Launching her party’s health policy in Dublin on Thursday, she said Renua would not “dangle any so-called freebies” before the electorate ahead of the general election.
“We know the agenda of the Coalition partners coming up to an election promising free GP care. It’s not free. It’s paid for by taxpayers. We all pay it,” she said.
“And I think we have to prioritise. It’s easy to promise goodies and dangle things but we have to be rigorous in how we prioritise where resources are directed, and for us it’s about the most vulnerable the sickest in our society.”
Free GP care has been provided for under-sixes and over-70s, with Fine Gael saying it will ensure all children and older people with chronic illness get free care by 2020. Labour are promising universal free care within the next five years.
“We have concerns about promises to roll out services which will put more pressure on the service. Where people can pay they should pay. Those who are most vulnerable should be protected,” Ms Creighton said.
“We have children with Down’s syndrome who can’t get access to medical cards, I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”
Asked if Renua would reverse universal free GP care for under-sixes, Ms Creighton said: “We’re not reversing anything. We’re simply saying we’re not promising to dangle any so-called freebies before the electorate.”
The levels of demoralisation in the health service at the moment are extraordinary, she added.
Renua has called for all political parties to work together in a National Health Forum to develop a 20-year plan for healthcare in conjunction with the HSE, health workers, unions, and patient groups.
Ms Creighton said the Government had failed to tackle problems in the health service.
“I think coming in as Minister for Health in fairness towards the end of the lifetime of the Government is a challenge and I accept that Leo Varakdar has faced an enormous challenge after three-and-a-half years of inaction by his predecessor [James Reilly].
“But that’s not an excuse. This government is collectively responsible and they have failed abysmally.”