Thomas Pringle TD

Thomas Pringle TD – Fund Our Health Service So It Can Respond Provide For The People

The one thing Covid has shown is that we can have a health service that responds to the people and provides for them but it has to be funded. If the Government continues to deny this, we will continue to have a system in crisis. That will be the real problem in the future. This can be resolved by providing funding. I doubt very much that the Government is going to do so. It is, however, the only way the issue can be resolved

The most interesting remark made on the Government side was made by the Minister, who said funding has not materialised and that this needs to change. It is interesting that he said that in his speech, yet the Government’s counter-motion on the Order Paper makes no mention of it and lauds the great job the Government is doing.

When one reads the language in the counter-motion, one wonders what is happening. There is a reference to cancer services having continued at reduced capacity. The public is blamed for the decrease, the reason given being the “initial public reticence to attend for cancer services”. The amendment states services were paused in March and also that programmes continued as hospital resources allowed. The effective resumption of services is to be at some ill-defined stage in the future. That is the problem. The Government is not accepting responsibility for making the services available again. We all know that services had to be curtailed initially because of Covid but they have to be got going again. For the Minister to say there will be a return to pre-Covid levels is pie in the sky. To get to pre-Covid levels, there is a need to increase greatly the number of people going through the hospitals. This will not be attempted. That is really the problem.

Unless this is addressed, unless required staff are recruited and unless the way in which hospitals work and provide services is altered, we will not get to the stage where we can allow an increase in the numbers going through the hospitals. There needs to be immediate recruitment and a reorganisation of outpatient and inpatient systems within hospitals to increase the number of patients seen in order to get back to levels close to those before the Covid pandemic. The HSE and healthcare system have to accept that there has been a change. It has to be funded and managed. First, one has to make the funds available.