“Today’s announcement is a resounding endorsement of the cross-party Sláintecare vision for a universal, single-tier health system.”

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has welcomed today’s adoption by the government of the Sláintecare health reform – but questioned its urgency in implementing it.

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

“The publication by the Minister for Health today of a Sláintecare Implementation Strategy is to be welcomed for what it is – a resounding endorsement of the plan and a clear acknowledgement that our health system is dysfunctional and needs to undergo wholesale reform as envisaged in Sláintecare.

“It’s now 15 months since Sláintecare was published with cross-party support – and enough time has already been lost. There are many thorny issues that must be grappled with in implementing the Sláintecare blueprint.

“The public needs to see early evidence that the government is serious about its commitments. That means reducing intolerable waiting lists for health services and cutting health care costs, which are a real barrier for people in accessing decent healthcare. The Minister hasn’t been specific enough on these, and that is disappointing.”

Deputy Shortall added:

“I have some concerns about the lack of clarity and detail in relation to the reform programme in today’s strategy. For example, no commitment was provided today to funding of the €3bn transition fund envisaged in the plan. We also need to see substantial urgency in delivering a new GP contract.

“I am also concerned about the Ministers’ use of the term eligibility in relation to how the plan will be delivered. Sláintecare recommends a legal entitlement to universal health care to be rolled out across the population.

“We can only judge the government’s commitment to Sláintecare when we see a firm commitment to ongoing funding. The reforms outlined in Sláintecare will only happen if the reform process has a dedicated funding stream of its own – it can’t take money away from frontline services. This needs to be provided for in October’s budget and subsequent Budgets.”