September 16, 2022
Sinn Féin launch €1.1 billion Alternative Budget for Health 2023 ‘Funding Fairer Healthcare’ – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has today launched Sinn Fein’s €1.1 billion Alternative Budget for Health 2023 ‘Funding Fairer Healthcare.’

Teachta Cullinane outlined a proposed major expansion in healthcare degree places by 1,500 places for an increase of 24%, on average, across all courses, and additional investment in advanced training across medicine, nursing, and psychology.

The wide-ranging package of measures includes €150 million for reducing the cost of healthcare, including €40 million for expanding GP visit card income thresholds for 300,000 people; €391 million for expanding hospital capacity to tackle waiting times; €154 million for investment in primary and community care, including €30 million for expanding GP practice staffing; €82 million for mental health services; €153 million for disability services; and €98.8 million for improvement strategies for cancer care, cardiovascular health, and women’s healthcare, among others.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“Hospital waiting lists and emergency department wait times are spiralling out of control, GPs are becoming more difficult to access, and inequality in healthcare continues to deepen as the cost-of-living crisis impacts on workers and families.

“Sinn Féin is proposing €1.1 billion in new measures for Health in 2023, comprised of €657.7 million in current expenditure measures and an additional €461.6 million in capital or one-off spending. 

“Sinn Féin would reduce the Drugs Payment Scheme threshold by 10% to €70 a month, abolish prescription charges for medical card holders, abolish hospital inpatient charges over two years, and reduce and cap car parking charges, particularly for frequent attendees.

“Our proposals mark a significant commitment to overhauling the approach to workforce planning in healthcare, as the Government parties’ hands-off approach has failed to date to train, recruit, and retain enough healthcare workers.

“Their failure is best illustrated in the fact that more than 400 visas were issued to Irish doctors by Australia in the first five months of this year alone, equivalent to almost 5% of all practicing doctors in the State, and hundreds leave every year.

“We propose funding to open 500 additional acute inpatient beds by the end of 2023, 40 inpatient specialist rehabilitation beds, 37 additional critical care beds in 2023, and 250 community beds as well as 40 mental health inpatient places.

“We would provide additional capital funding for expanding surgical theatre capacity and public diagnostic capacity, equivalent to a 10% expansion in theatre capacity and 150,000 diagnostic scans.

“Sinn Féin would also prioritise new arrangements with primary care and hospital doctors, to resolve contract disputes, expand supporting staff arrangements, remove private healthcare from public hospitals, and expanding free GP care. 

“We would double the staffing subsidy to GPs over 3 years to boost capacity around medical staff and expand GP training places by 20%. We would also expand eligibility for GP Visit Cards to 300,000 people and families.

“We would invest €153 million in implementing the Disability Capacity Review and fund targeted recruitment and retention measures for Children’s Disability Network Teams.

“Our proposals also include an €81 million investment in mental health services; €99 million for targeted improvement strategies across cancer, cardiovascular health, and healthcare for women. 

“Sinn Féin’s priority in health is to deliver a universal Irish National Health Service which ends the two-tier health system and removes cost barriers to healthcare. 

“This proposed budget would kickstart a 10-year strategy to transform the health service and deliver timely health and social care on the basis of need, not ability to pay.”

ENDS

Note to Editor:

You can view the Sinn Féin Alternative Health Budget 2023 here.

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