In January 2016 the number of patients on trolleys in A&E was up 20% on the figures for January 2015. We reached an all-time high of 600 patients on trolleys on one day. There has been no recruitment in the health service in the past 5 years of this government. In Beaumont hospital alone there are 235 vacancies, 116 of them being nurses. Nationally 70,000 people are waiting for surgery and 400,000 awaiting a specialist appointment. Savage cuts to funding for community based carers, respite care, mental health services, etc. results in increased pressure on A&E services. The introduction of prescription charges for medical card holders means many ill people on low incomes are not taking required medicines due to the cost.
However since 2013 an extra 1200 million euros has disappeared into the health service. Clearly the funds are not being used to provide front-line staff dealing with public need. The current two tier system whereby the public health service subsidises an expensive and elitist private health sector must be radically transformed. In the related areas of child care and elderly residential care there is almost no public funded services, all those requiring such care are totally held hostage by the private sector.
The role of government must be to provide a universal health care system free at the point of entry which creates the highest possible level of care for all citizens, irrespective of social or economic factors.