“It is incredibly disappointing that the Budget has fallen very far short of the funding needed to properly implement the vision set out in Sláintecare for a universal single tier health service where people are treated promptly on the basis of their medical needs.”

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has accused the government of cherry-picking crucial Sláintecare health reforms in Budget 2019.

Deputy Shortall, who chaired the cross-party Oireachtas committee which produced the Sláintecare blueprint, said:

“The government had an opportunity in this year’s Budget to show it is serious about improving the delivery of health service reforms as set out in the detailed Sláintecare plan which Fine Gael has signed up to.

“It is incredibly disappointing that the Budget has fallen very far short of the funding needed to properly implement the vision set out in Sláintecare for a universal single tier health service where people are treated promptly on the basis of their medical needs.

“A key test of the government’s commitment to Sláintecare was the creation of a transition fund of €500 million per year over six years. This funding is needed for the building of primary care centres, eHealth improvements, increased hospital bed capacity, community diagnostics and a significant increase in training places for primary care staff such as GPs, nurses, and therapists. Sláintecare cannot happen without these. Yet Budget 2019 does not provide sufficient funding for these.

“For example, E-Health should be funded to the tune of €146 million this year, but this Budget provides only for €25 million. It is also notable that the Minister for Finance failed to announce today the removal of hospital inpatient charges, as provided for in the first year of the Sláintecare plan.

“It looks like the government has cherry-picked Sláintecare. The Minister is dressing up some easy to deliver aspects of the reforms – such as a 50 cent reduction in prescription charges for some medical card holders – but failing to drive fundamental reforms.”

ENDS

9th October