Laois Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley has has said that “some simple changes to the current system will make a major difference to people’s lives” when he was speaking during a debate on the Health Bill in the Dáil last week.
“Despite the fact that we put more money per head of population into health services than any other European country, we still have a dysfunctional two-tier system,” he said.
“That is despite the best efforts of the front-line staff. Sinn Féin has a plan to move healthcare away from a system based on what is in one’s bank balance or pocket towards a European national NHS-style system where all citizens are guaranteed a world-class service.
“We all know that this cannot be done overnight but we can make some simple changes to the current system that will make a major difference to peoples lives.”
Referencing Sinn Féin’s election manifesto, he said his party committed to two free GP visits per year for everyone who does not have a medical card and a full medical card entitlement for those who have cancer.
“In line with Sinn Féin’s own proposals to move towards a one-tier system in healthcare system, we welcome the steps taken in the legislation by the Government to provide GP care to all children under the age of 12 and to increase the income limits for those over 70.
“However, a major problem remains for all those who are working and do not qualify for a medical card. There are over one million people in Ireland who have no health cover – They do not qualify for a medical card and they do not have private health insurance because, they cannot afford it.
“If you are a couple with two children under 16 you can’t get a medical card with an income over €342 a week – an incredibly low threshold. A single person living alone loses the medical card if he or she has an income in excess of €184 per week. This is ludicrous. What is worse, is that these thresholds have not been raised since 2006.
“You have parents who are choosing not to go to a GP because their child has a flu and they can’t afford to go. This is despite the fact that we spend €4,706 per head of population on healthcare, one third more than the average across the 35 OECD countries. This is far more than other EU states that are free at the point of delivery.”