Thursday 23 November 2017

We'll be lobbied to death over new health committee, says Kelly

Labour TD Alan Kelly. Photo: Tom Burke
Labour TD Alan Kelly. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Labour TD Alan Kelly has predicted that a Dáil committee on the future of healthcare will be "lobbied to death".

Former junior health minister Róisín Shortall was named chairperson of the new committee that is tasked with developing Ireland's health strategy for the next 10 years.

A number of TDs raised concern at the level of lobbying they will face from the health sector.

"Ultimately, this could be the most important committee in these houses for many years," Mr Kelly said, adding that there's been no consistency in healthcare "for generations".

"The most political thing in Ireland is healthcare and we need to watch out for that... Obviously, we'll be lobbied to death," he added.

Sinn Féin's Louise O'Reilly suggested much of the contributions should be in written form to speed up their work. The committee has a six-month deadline to produce its report.

Mr Kelly said the committee's recommendations must be "implementable".

"There's no point in sitting here for six months and saying that we can deliver a Utopian vision which isn't realistic," he said. Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher also warned the public doesn't want to see a committee "promising the sun, moon and stars as well, without actually also highlighting the cost implications, how we fund it".

Ms Shortall, of the Social Democrats, said the current health system is "dysfunctional" and that she wants it to develop into "a single tier, universal health service".

She said there needs to be a move away from hospitals towards a focus on community and primary care.

Independent TD Michael Harty echoed that and said: "The patient must come first on every occasion and I think when we are planning a health service it should be around developing systems that suit the patient."

Fine Gael's Kate O'Connell said she trained as a pharmacist in Britain and that: "When we're looking at evidence, we probably could look to the NHS. Now, it's not a perfect model but it is, I suppose, what we possibly could aspire to."

Irish Independent

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