Election 2016

  • Dismantle the HSE, replacing it with a National Health Service, free at the point of use for all patients, funded by progressive taxation, and end the present two-tier system
  • Develop free primary healthcare in public Health Centres in all communities.
  • Restore and increase home help hours to enable elderly citizens to remain in their homes.
  • Provide for 500,000 extra Personal Assistant hours for people with disabilities, so they can live independently.

€4 billion was taken out of the Health budget between 2009 and 2014. The total number of patients who spent time on hospital trolleys in 2015 was a record high, and 23% higher than in 2010. Home help hours have been cut by 10% over the past five years, and funding to disability services has been decimated. Wait times in Irish A&Es are the longest in Europe.

Our health system isn’t working.

The Irish health system was under massive strain before ever the austerity axe was swung at it. Years of funding and staff cuts mean the crisis is now severe. Our two-tier system makes it impossible to deliver fair and efficient healthcare, because of the pressure and complexity of simultaneously running two unconnected systems. It is also deeply unfair, with some people able to jump the queue if they can afford to pay for private health insurance.

Our blended model of paying for healthcare through a combination of tax-funding, private insurance and out-of-pocket payments helps to explain why our spend on healthcare as a percentage of GDP isn’t far behind the UK’s (6% in Ireland compared to 7.8% in the UK) – we’re spending more to get less because of the expenses involved in administering a mixed system, including higher administrative costs, and tax reliefs on private health insurance that benefit the better-off the most. A single-tier system funded through taxation is more cost-efficient, it’s fairer, and it will allow us to save even more money through economies of scale – something the NHS does extremely well.

More healthcare needs to happen in communities, and more needs to be invested in primary care centres to both ease the pressure on hospitals and to provide more appropriate care in a more appropriate setting. We also need to invest more in services like home helps for the elderly, so they can stay in their homes, or return to their homes after hospital stays. Cuts to disability services must be reversed, and more Personal Assistant hours provided for to allow people with disabilities to live independent lives.