October 10, 2023
Budget 2024 shows government has thrown in the towel on health – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has denounced Budget 2024 as “lacking vision and ambition,” demonstrating that the Government has “thrown in the towel” on Health.

Teachta Cullinane said that Budget 2024 contains no new funding to deliver the Minister for Health’s promised 1500 hospital beds, for mental health services, or for vital new medicines and therapies.

He said that even simple measures that would make a difference for patients, such as reducing the cost of medicines or car parking charges, were not included.

The TD for Waterford pointed out that Sinn Féin’s alternative budget for health showed that Sinn Féin, unlike the Government, is serious about tackling long waiting times and delivering universal healthcare.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“Budget 2024 demonstrates that the Government has thrown in the towel on Health. It is lacking vision and ambition.

“There is no new funding for the promised 1500 hospital beds and the capital budget would not even keep pace with inflation.

“The Government has failed to plug the deficit and put the health service on a sustainable footing. They have allocated less funding than last year for maintaining existing levels of service and for Covid- and Ukraine-related expenditure. They have allocated €300 million in one-off funding to cover this up.

“There is €100 million for new measures in comparison to Sinn Féin’s proposed €1.3 billion, which would deliver 1,800 additional hospital beds over three years, expand theatre and diagnostic capacity, deliver more home care, and expand training places for healthcare professionals.

“Sinn Féin would also have delivered a 37% reduction in the maximum monthly cost of medicines to €50 for every family, 400,000 additional medical cards, phased out car parking charges, and abolished prescription charges.

“The Government’s failure also extends to mental health and disabilities services.

“Today is World Mental Health Day, yet in the Budget there is very little, if any, new money for Mental Health Services. If there is any new mental health funding, it is hidden in an insignificant €7 million fund that covers a wide range of sectors. Sinn Féin outlined that mental health services needed €75 million in investment next year.

“When it comes to disability services, the Government’s €64 million falls far short of what’s needed. Sinn Féin outlined the €150 million investment that is needed to implement the Government’s own Disability Action Plan for additional personal assistance hours to enable independent living, advancing decongregration, and expanding residential care places.

“All of this means that the many vital health projects waiting for funding will not be delivered. Patients will continue to languish in their hundreds of trolleys every day. The more than 700,000 patients waiting simply for a date for a hospital appointment will continue to wait months and years in uncertainty.

“This is all under the watch of Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, whose hands-off approach has led to a massive deficit in health spending which has derailed his own plans to expand capacity.

“The failure of the Minister to achieve savings in outsourcing and agency spending – which has ballooned to over half-a-billion – and to put our health service on a sustainable footing will lead to disaster for thousands of patients and workers.

“It is a serious failure in leadership which will leave our health services limping from crisis to crisis again next year.

“Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget shows that, unlike the Government, we are serious about tackling long waiting times and delivering universal healthcare.”

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