News & Media

Who is pulling the strings for implementation of Slaintecare?

9 September 2021

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Northern Ireland
  • Why did senior staff feel change was impossible?
  • Is the Taoiseach committed to a single tier health service?

Labour leader and health spokesperson Alan Kelly has said there are fundamental questions that the Minister now needs to answer regarding the resignation of two key officials from the Slaintecare programme. Deputy Kelly said that the apparent conflict between the Department of Health and the HSE is deeply troubling and points to a Government washing its hands of the implementation of Slaintecare.

Deputy Kelly said:

“There has been a total lack of political management of healthcare in this country. Slaintecare was supposed to represent a total overhaul and a new way of doing politics, now the whole thing is left in a total mess.

“ Why did the people who resigned feel the need to do so? Were they not supported in their roles by the Minister and the Department? Did they see the writing on the wall that there is no political will to deliver this change?

“Prof. Keane was responsible for enormous reforms in cancer care and has a reputation of delivering. He is someone with clear experience and determination to make change but he felt change was not possible here. Are alarm bells not ringing in the Minister’s ears that a person with this level of experience felt that the requirements for implementing Slaintecare were lacking?

“In fact, his Department tried to make out that the reason for his departure was that his contract was up. Based on Prof. Keane’s correspondence with the implementation group, that’s clearly not the case. He’s leaving because he feels he can’t get things done. What a damning inditement of this Government’s commitment to bringing equality into our health care system.

“Ms Magahy’s hands also seem to have been tied in relation to the delivery of Slaintecare. Did she feel that she had no real power in delivering this change? Did she feel that the purse strings would never be loosened enough to deliver what has been promised to date in terms of regionalisation of the health service and in negotiating a new consultant contact?

“Change of the scale proposed by Slaintecare demands full government attention and commitment. Ms Magahy and Prof Keane asked that the Department of An Taoiseach be the Department responsible for this programme rather than Health. Why was their request denied and who decided on that? Was it the Taoiseach himself? Is Michéal Martin committed to Slaintecare? Is he committed to a single tier health service, removing private care from public hospitals? Is he committed to moving healthcare into the community based on a regional model as proposed?

“The public needs to understand exactly what is going on here. It seems to me that these resignations have occured because the people know there is no appetite for change, there is no appetite for delivery and there is no appetite for fairness in our approach to health care in this country.

“The Minister needs to come forward and tell us why these people resigned, who is now in charge of delivering Slaintecare and provide implementable timelines so the people of Ireland can stop listening to Government spin on the matter.”