Taoiseach won't promise to end use of trolleys next year
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has shied away from promising to end the use of hospital trolleys in 2016. The Fine Gael leader has pledged continued efforts to improve the health services but this year has notably avoided specific promises on the controversial use of trolleys.
As far back as the 2007 general election, Mr Kenny pledged to end the mass use of trolleys for patients awaiting care in A&Es. During the February 2011 campaign he promised to end the "two-tier system" and give every citizen equal health care access.
These unfulfilled promises are frequently used by the opposition to highlight Government shortcomings.
But in refusing to renew his promise on ending trolley use, the Taoiseach stressed that efforts to improve health services will continue if this government is re-elected. Mr Kenny has also told reporters he regrets shortcomings in the health services and continues to hope that Health Minister Leo Varadkar will make progress in improving things. He estimated that it would take about a further 15 years to deliver health care free at point of delivery - something which in 2011 was promised to happen "within two government terms".
"I don't like to have distressing stories in regard to health issues that arise occasionally. I find that difficult, I have to say. That's why Minister Varadkar is tackling this in a really vigorous way now and I hope we can continue the progress that will lead us to having a universal healthcare system that will provide service for a population that is ageing, and that will require a lot of attention over the next 15 years," Mr Kenny said.
Mr Kenny said the main emphasis for his Government - if re-elected - will be to copperfasten economic recovery.
"What the Government will pay attention to is continuing to drive the recovery ... to have the engine. You need an economic engine to be able to provide for these many services. Not just in health but in education and in justice and in defence."
Mr Kenny also argued that some progress had been made on improving the efficiency of hospital administration. He said if he wins the next election there will be more targeted investment in all services, including the health sector.