Saturday 7 December 2019

Fianna Fáil 'will gradually abolish prescription charge' but no extension of free GP care

Fianna Fail Director of Elections Billy Kelleher TD Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin TD
Fianna Fail Director of Elections Billy Kelleher TD Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin TD

Eilish O’Regan

Fianna Fáil will gradually abolish the unpopular prescription charge for medical card holders if returned to government- but it will not extend free GP care beyond under-sixes or over-70s

The party’s  pre-election  health service  proposals were unveiled today by Fianna Fail spokesman on health Billy Kelleher.

He said Fianna Fáil is proposing an additional €1.3bn  of investment in services in a targeted programme directing resources where they are needed most.

He said :“The current crisis in health services is based fundamentally on five years of failed Fine Gael policies and an obsession with managing the media rather than managing the health service.

“The first thing we'll do is to end Fine Gael's damaging changes and return the emphasis to investing in public health services.”

The Cork deputy who was flanked by Dublin west candidate  Councillor Jack Chambers said:“We are proposing the recruitment of an additional 500 consultants over five years. This will make a significant contribution to reducing waiting lists and the numbers on trolleys. We will also reactivate the National Treatment Purchase Fund to ensure that patients are not waiting unreasonable periods for scheduled treatments.

“There will also be significant emphasis on home care for older people in medical need. We will reverse the cut of one million home help hours and provide two million more than what is currently being provided. There will also be a significant increase in home care packages with 3,500 extra projected.

“On medical cards the Fianna Fáil spokesman said children with disabilities whose family are in receipt of the Domiciliary Care allowance will also receive a medical card. He also pledged to ensure a humane approach on discretionary medical cards so that ill health does not result in financial hardship.

“Other measures that will help people are the abolition of prescription charges and a reduction in the Drug Payment Threshold from €144 to €100.

“The recruitment of 4,000 more nurses in both the primary and acute sectors will also ensure speedier access health services. We also need to improve dental care and we will provide for another fifty dental surgeons. We will also enable children with urgent dental need access the Treatment Purchase Fund where necessary.”

He insisted he was  being very careful not to overpromise or say he will solve every problem in the health service.

“Too many unrealistic commitments were made by Fine Gael and Labour in 2011, leading to too many promises being broken over the past five years, eroding public confidence and trust in politics.

“We are not going down that road.  Instead we will make solid commitments to improve services where need is greatest.”

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