Roisin Shortall TD

Social Democrats health spokesperson Róisín Shortall has called on the Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, to take questions in the Dáil this week and explain why there is a €2 billion hole in the health service budget for 2024.

“Minister Donohoe must come into the Dáil this week and explain why this Government continues to starve the health service of sufficient funding. He needs to go back to the drawing board and present a budget that accurately reflects the cost of providing a quality health service.

“Despite warnings from the HSE, Budget 2023 failed to provide sufficient funding to meet patient need. It is therefore inevitable that a supplementary budget will be required before the end of this year.

“Now we have learned that there will be a €2 billion shortfall in the health service budget for 2024. This will stymie future spending and recruitment in key clinical programmes such as cancer and stroke care. In addition, the lack of funding for new drugs next year will amount to a life sentence for patients with cancer and other serious conditions.

“Since last week’s Budget, we have already seen the HSE being forced to announce an extension of its recruitment embargo, which will prevent the appointment of more junior doctors, homecare staff and other grades of employees in the healthcare sector.

“The scale of underfunding threatens to undermine the progress made in transitioning to a properly functioning public health service in recent years under Sláintecare. Instead of squeezing the health budget, the Government should be committing to properly funding essential reforms so people in Ireland can have the same access to healthcare that our European neighbours enjoy.

“The Government continues to be in denial about the need to adequately fund healthcare in this country. It is patients who will pay the price for this and it cannot be allowed to continue.”

October 16, 2023

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