HEALTH Minister James Reilly said today he had no intention of resigning and it was a bit rich of Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to demand it.
Speaking at the launch of a Safefood advertising campaign to tackle childhood obesity, he also admitted he was concerned about his own weight.
“I’m not happy with the profundity of my rotundity,” he said.
Dr Reilly said it was vital to tackle the rising tide of obesity because of the horrific consequences of not doing so.
“We could be the first generation to bury our children and that’s not the natural order of things, it’s every parent’s nightmare.
“It’s an area I’ve had a long, long interest in for obvious reasons and one I continue to struggle with myself, but I’ll keep struggling.”
Dr Reilly said it wasn’t just a case of being well-padded for the winter, it had an impact on your health status from diabetes, stroke to osteoarthritis interfering with your ability to enjoy life in later years.
“There’s not much point as happened in my own family of living to be 80 if you spend 14 years with no vision. When I say not much point, it’s not the best way to spend your last 14 years.”
Dr Reilly slated opposition leader Micheal Martin for calling on him to resign because of queries about the health sector budget.
“It’s a bit rich for Micheal Martin, the architect of the HSE, demanding, when we had more money than at any other time in the state and made a complete mess of the health service.”
“The man who presided for 716 weeks week-in week-out sitting at Cabinet with Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen bankrupt the country, it’s really a bit tongue in cheek from my point of view coming from him.”
He insisted he was more in control than ever before of his department with a new financial reform board in the HSE and a new chief financial officer.
“It’s precisely because of that I want these figures to be jointly assessed, validated and the implications of their implementation shared and understood by the Department of Public Expenditure, and Taoiseach’s and all my cabinet colleagues.”
This review was one he had sought and got cabinet approval for.
In the past there had been cause for concern that money was being wasted in health.
However having taken €3bn out of the health budget and reduced staffing by over 10pc despite 8pc increase rise in population “There is no fat left in the system, we’re down to the bone, and I would like everybody to understand as we go towards implementing it the implications it may have for the service plan.”
Regarding concerns that people would lose their medical cards because of the €113m in cuts, Dr Reilly said that the probity savings drive also related to service providers including doctors, pharmacists and dentists.
He said that nearly 2m people had medical cards including GP cards, and these were not in jeopardy.
“They’re entitled, there’s no question of us changing the rules to change that entitlement”.
Dr Reilly said he had become aware in recent days that people weren’t always aware of their entitlements and what elegible expenses were allowable when applying.
At his health cabinet meeting today the HSE would present a communications strategy to ensure people were aware of all the allowable expenses.