HEALTH dominated the agenda for many parties on the campaign trail yesterday, with both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil setting out plans to solve the health crisis.
Fianna Fáil’s strategy includes adding five million home-help hours, doubling the National Treatment Purchase Fund, adding 2,600 more hospital beds and hiring an extra 4,000 nursing staff over five years.
The party’s health spokesman Stephen Donnelly, a former management consultant in the health sector, called the state of the HSE “dysfunctional” and “failing”.
The party says it is in favour of moving to a system of universal healthcare, adding that although there “will always be private healthcare”, they want to phase out private healthcare in public hospitals.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael pledged to introduce free GP care to all under-18s over the next five years.
Outlining a number of health policies, the party also said that all hospital charges will be abolished for children in the budget next year.
Health minister Simon Harris also pledged free dental care for all under-16s.
Fine Gael also plans to introduce ‘baby boxes’ — containing clothes, blankets, nappies, and other items.
However, Social Democrats candidate in Cork North-Central, Sinéad Halpin,said that Sláintecare is the answer to the country’s health crisis.
“People are at breaking point. There are over 3,000 people awaiting pain management in one Cork hospital alone. Patients with chronic pain are feeling fobbed off and dismissed,” she said.
“Sláintecare is the first health plan agreed by all of the main political parties in the Dáil. We are determined to see it implemented in full.”