Irish people deserve a high quality public health service that provides universal healthcare for all on the basis of medical need – not on ability to pay.

Our Plan For Healthcare

Build an Irish NHS

A properly funded universal single-tier health service will join up health and social care so people are able to access treatments in their communities.

A Right to Homecare

A legal entitlement to homecare packages for older people will take pressure off A&E services by reducing the number of delayed discharge patients.

Support Mental Health

Improve staffing levels and extend counselling hours to create a culture that fosters a positive approach to mental well-being.

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Building an Irish NHS
Our health service is at breaking point following decades of mismanagement. On a year round basis, vulnerable patients are left on trolleys for days in overcrowded emergency departments. Citizens are dying after spending years on waiting lists for life-saving operations. Rural communities live in fear of accidents when ambulances can take hours to arrive. Patients and their families must travel for basic procedures that could be done closer to home. We have a very hospital-focused health system – rather than a community care focus –  a top-heavy administration. Yet there is hope. Ireland has incredibly talented front-line healthcare staff and our health budget is in line with other developed countries which have great health systems. The old excuse was that there was no plan. Well that’s not an excuse anymore.

Sláintecare – An Irish NHS

Sláintecare is a 10 year plan for a modern and dependable public health service.  It would mean that patients would be treated promptly on the basis of their health needs rather than on their ability to pay. The Social Democrats played an important role in developing Sláintecare. We proposed an all-Party Committee to examine the issue. Our co-leader, Róisín Shortall, chaired that Committee. Sláintecare is the first health plan agreed by all of the main political parties in the Dail. We are determined to see it implemented in full.

What Sláintecare means for you

Sláintecare is a fully costed plan for a universal, single-tier public health service. At the heart of Sláintecare are better local health and social care services, away from big hospitals. It will also mean much lower medical expenses for everyone. It includes:

  • Removing hospital inpatient charges.
  • Significantly reducing prescription charges and lowering costs for medicines.
  • Rolling out free GP care and chronic care programmes for those suffering from for instance, asthma, diabetes etc.
  • Maximum waiting times for surgery, outpatient appointments and A&E
  • Recruiting more doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers including speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, dieticians and occupational therapists.
  • Providing primary care services, including diagnostics likes x-rays and blood tests, in modern primary care centres in communities.
  • Reinstating the Dental Treatment Service Scheme which would provide assistance with the cost of fillings, extractions, root canal treatments, gum-cleaning, X-rays and denture work.
  • Improved funding for mental health, including counselling, community programmes, and adult mental health teams.
  • Improvements to homecare and palliative care

With this approach, we can achieve a proper public health service where everyone, young or old, can get access to the care they need and where our health workers are valued and respected.

Download the Sláintecare Plan
Supporting Mental Well-Being
Decades of chronic under-resourcing and a lack of integration have hampered the effective development of mental health services in Ireland. This lack of appropriate services due to inadequate resource allocation has stigmatised people suffering with mental health issues and isolated them in terms of treatment choices.     The Social Democrats want to eliminate that stigma and create a culture that fosters a positive approach to mental well-being.

Proactive Care

As with any medical condition, prevention is always better than cure. With regard to mental-health this poses a particular challenge as outmoded attitudes and cultural perceptions have contributed to a culture of silence. Early intervention is critical in addressing emerging mental health difficulties. We want to see the introduction of a curriculum to proactively develop children’s mental health and well-being. We also support the extension of successful infant mental health and well-being programmes where these are currently being provided on a pilot basis. The Social Democrats also recognise the importance for children of parental mental-health and we believe that special focus should be given to vulnerable new parents in the allocation of resources. We want to see the full restoration of guidance counsellors to all secondary schools. We support the aims of Connecting for Life – in particular we would seek to urgently address adolescent suicide by equipping teachers and guidance counsellors with best-practice training to be able to effectively identify and respond to children in need.

Vision for Changes

We are committed to delivering all aspects of the 2006 ‘Vision for Change’ strategy as a cornerstone of our mental health plan and have pushed the Government to see an updated plan published and implemented. We will also work to provide services to proactively equip people with basic tools to positively strengthen awareness of their own mental health and recognise when to seek help.

Comprehensive Sexual Education
An adult population with a healthy and informed perspective on sexuality and relationships begins with a good education in the fundamentals of sexualities and relationships for children and adolescents. International research is clear that schools have a role to play, in tandem with families, in educating children on sexual health, development and relationships. It is now half way through the National Sexual Strategy 2015 to 2020, and a review of the implementation of the strategy would help to identify areas where priority actions are needed. It is becoming increasingly obvious that we are failing to promote a culture of consent. We need to build a model of sexualities education fit for contemporary society which ensures that all young people are fully aware of their right to consent to or decline a sexual encounter and which enables young people to recognise where consent is given and where it is not.

Sexuality Education Programme

We want to see a holistic comprehensive sexuality education programme that is age-appropriate and that integrates key components such as:

  • Body positivity
  • Gender identity and gender expression
  • Relationships
  • Sexual orientation
  • Fertility
  • Consent awareness and sexual rights
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Sexual pleasure
  • STI Education and prevention
  • Safety on social and digital media in the context of sexuality

You can read our full policy on sexual health here.

Reproductive Health
There are four key components to reproductive health that this policy focuses on:   1: Prevent, Diagnose and treat infertility 2: Reduce unmet need for Contraception 3: Ensure Maternity Care which guarantees safe motherhood 4: Provide safe, rights-based services for those seeking to terminate a pregnancy The Social Democrats believe that contraception should be: • Affordable – including widely available free to those who need it • VAT exempt & subject to maximum pricing limits, when to be paid for ????? • Readily available from a variety of sources designed to eliminate any stigma associated with their procurement.

Maternity care for safe motherhood

Maternity care in Ireland is not standardised. Depending on the hospital or a person’s geographic location, access to scans and other elements of best practice maternal health care varies considerably. The Social Democrats propose:

  • Ensure all funding provisions are made available for the full implementation of the National Maternity Strategy
  • Timely access to dating scans for everyone
  • Free and accessible first trimester screening for chromosomal abnormalities for every pregnancy as the minimum standard
  • Free and accessible second trimester screening before 20 weeks to allow for the detection of any foetal abnormalities
  • The establishment of a minimum of six specialist perinatal multidisciplinary mental health teams
  • The creation of regionally based mother and baby treatment units around the country
Safe, rights-based services for terminations

The Social Democrats strongly supported the holding of a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment from the Constitution and campaigned strongly in favour of a repeal vote. The Social Democrats will continue to advocate for legislation which allows termination on request up to 12 weeks gestation, which would be provided within the public healthcare system. After this 12 week period, the Social Democrats believe legislation should allow terminations on the advice of medical professionals where the mental and/or physical health of a woman is at risk or where there is a fatal foetal abnormality. You can read our entire policy on reproductive health here.

Right to HomeCare

The Latest Health Press Releases

The Sláintecare Reform Plan

The SocDems led a collaboration to produce this ten year plan to transform our health and social care services.

Building a Better Future

See our Manifesto plan to build a health system where everyone who needs it gets quality health care in the community.

Latest Health Proposals

Take a look at our latest detailed costings to deliver an Irish-style NHS #AffordableLives