Health proposals in ‘band-aid budget’ criticised by Opposition

TDs unhappy at exclusion of universal health care plan which they claim is ‘dead in the water’

TDs at the announcement of the Future of Healthcare ‘Sláintecare’ report earlier this year. Labour says the proposal is ‘dead in the water’ after not being mentioned in the budget speech. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

TDs at the announcement of the Future of Healthcare ‘Sláintecare’ report earlier this year. Labour says the proposal is ‘dead in the water’ after not being mentioned in the budget speech. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

 

A plan to deliver a universal, single-tier health system is “dead in the water” following the budgetary announcements, Labour TD Alan Kelly has said.

Mr Kelly said the 10-year fully costed Sláintecare plan for publicly funded healthcare was published in May with cross party-support after months of work but was not mentioned in Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe’s speech.

“Instead of Sláintecare what we have seen is the Government pumping money into private healthcare services through the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF),” said Mr Kelly, his party’s health spokesman.

He said he appreciated the outcome of receiving treatment under the NTPF could be good for individual patients in certain parts of the country.

“But there must be a major doubt as to whether the greater good is served by a system that allows us to spend more on private healthcare at the expense of investing in our public system.”

Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said the budget contained “nothing new” in terms of social housing despite the scale of the crisis, and he complained of a “massive giveaway to vulture funds through changes to capital gains tax”.

‘Tiny plaster’

Mr Murphy said it was a “band-aid budget, a tiny plaster on the societal wounds created by 10 years of crisis”.

“It’s a very right-wing budget, with private funding and privatisation running through education, health, and housing. Fundamentally it’s a budget which will consolidate republic of inequality created in the course of the crisis.”

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said she was disappointed at the health proposals outlined by Mr Donohoe.

Ms Shortall, who chaired the cross-party Oireachtas Committee which agreed the Sláintecare plan, said the spending plans announced fell “very far short” of what was needed.

“The €120 million a year commitment for capital spending in particular is not enough to fund the building programme needed if we are to properly switch our delivery of health services to the community,” she said.

“That would require €500 million worth of annual investment in building new health centres, ensuring additional hospital capacity, and implementing an e-health programme which, if properly resourced, would result in considerable long-term savings.”

‘Measly’

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said Budget 2018 showed a “lack of ambition” and “no real vision” for Ireland.

He complained that cycling infrastructure had been allocated a “measly” €3 million and said the Government had not proposed any major measures aimed at tackling climate change.

“There are marginal nudges in most sectors through the use of tax breaks and spending increases but no real sense of any strategic decision making,” he said.

Mr Ryan said the budget followed the same model that Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats set out for years. “It is time for a change.”

However, the Greens’ deputy leader Catherine Martin welcomed the extension of maternity leave and benefits for the mothers of premature babies.