Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has criticised the “blame-game bickering” between the Minister for Public Expenditure and the Minister for Health, saying that the mismanagement of the health service lies squarely with the whole Government.
The Waterford TD said that the breakdown of trust between the two Ministers, evident in documents published in the media, has resulted in a disastrous budget which presents a real threat to patient safety.
He added that Minister Donohoe has been responsible for public finances for six years yet seems to have a “dangerous lack of understanding” of the problems in the health service.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The decision to drastically underfund the health service this year was a whole of Government decision. The blame-game bickering between Ministers is a distraction from their collective responsibility.
“It only reaffirms the breakdown of trust between Government parties, which has presented a real and serious risk to patient safety.
“This Government has thrown in the towel on health and Ministers are now more focused on fighting among themselves, rather than delivering a health service that meets the needs of patients.
“The Government has rightly been criticised for its financial gimmickry by IFAC, and their nonsense approach makes a mockery of the Health Budget. The Government has not even funded the health service to stand still for this year or next year, and this will create serious challenges to meet patient needs in 2024 and into 2025.
“As a result, patients will suffer. They will continue to languish on trolleys and waiting lists. There is no new funding for the urgently needed 1,500 hospital beds, which ESRI researchers identified in an evidence-based report. Minister Donohoe knows this, yet he has chosen to ignore it.
“Minister Donohoe has been responsible for public finances for six years, yet it seems he has a dangerous lack of understanding of the challenges facing the health service.
“A decade of bad decisions under Fine Gael Public Expenditure Ministers has crippled hospital capacity and the HSE’s ability to manage its finances in a modern way. Minister Donnelly failed to stand up to that, and the Government has repeated those mistakes this year and returned to underfunding the health service.
“We all know that greater efficiencies are needed in the health service, and that far too much money is spent on outsourcing, agency staff, management consultants, and non-compliant procurement.
“Sinn Féin has called this out for years. Minister Donnelly has failed to clamp down on this. But deliberately underfunding the health service will do nothing to address that, and will only create risks for patients.”