News & Media

How will Budget 2022 change care in Ireland?

12 October 2021

Statement by Duncan Smith TD
Spokesperson on Health, Transport and Communications

Responding to Budget 2022 Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith said people want system change, not throwaway tax cuts. Deputy Smith said the post-pandemic crisis within our health system will not be resolved by this government.

Deputy Smith said:

“Budget 2022 will be a disappointment for many people in Ireland, particularly those with additional care needs. It’s clear that this government will do nothing to tackle the huge systems failures within the health service. We have had five wasted years by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, with nothing done to tackle persistent and unrelenting issues within the service like the lack investment in the provision of patient facing care givers, from speech and language therapists to nurses, or from radiographers to eating disorder specialists. There is no vision for community based primary care and moving treatment outside the acute hospital setting.

“The delays, cancellations and curtailments in healthcare caused by Covid-19 have made what was already a poor situation considerably worse for people. In March, there were over 45,000 children on waiting lists for speech and language assessments and we have heard stories from many people seeking treatment for eating disorders are travelling to the UK for treatment. There is nothing in the budget to suggest that we will bring care into the community.

"We know that diagnostic care is better delivered in the community, but even after today’s budget, Ireland will remain the only EU country without a universal primary care system of free GP care. When Labour were last in Government we introduced free GP care for all under 6s. It has taken five years since we left Government for this current Government to add one extra year to this scheme. At this rate it will be 2071 by the time all children will be entitled to Free GP care.

“Enormous credit is due to our health workers and so many other key workers across the public service and in the private sector for their selflessness and dedication throughout this unprecedented crisis. However, with trolley figures returning to a post-pandemic high of 506 this morning, these workers are now facing into a winter with a health service that is already creaking under pressure. The only way to relieve it is serious investment. It’s not just the provision of additional beds that’s needed – we need to recruit additional staff to cater for these patients and take some of the pressure off our workers.

“In 2020 the State effectively nationalised the healthcare system overnight. Labour is committed to expanding public capacity and tackle waiting lists by purchasing the equivalent of two private hospitals. Outsourcing services will never deliver the adequate capacity we need. The 900,000 people on waiting lists, of which over 100,000 are children, shouldn’t have to wait for care.

“Indeed, if this government was serious about delivering on the system change proposed within Sláintecare, we would see serious investment in our primary care capacity that would pave the way for the health reform needed in this country.

“A fiver here and a fiver there is not good enough for those waiting on lists and on trolleys. It’s causing so much stress for staff who are just coming out of one crisis and entering into another. They continue to work around the many frontline gaps in the staffing of our hospitals. What will today deliver for them?”