Friday 18 October 2019

Budget 2020: 'Our children deserve the best healthcare... but that's not happening in Ireland'

Aisling McNiffe, pictured with her son Jack. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Aisling McNiffe, pictured with her son Jack. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Ralph Riegel

A YOUNG mother has slated the "shameful and disgraceful" Government's approach to the healthcare sector under Budget 2020.

Aisling McNiffe warned that decisions in the budget won't resolve the appalling national waiting list problem, the shortage of hospital beds, the chronic delays for vital treatments and the increasing pressure on families to quit public waiting lists and opt for expensive private treatment.

In Budget 2020, medical card provisions were extended and Health Service Executive (HSE) funding was increased to a record level.

However, Aisling warned that Ireland now has the lowest ratio of consultants within the EU - and the longest waiting times for many vital treatments.

"The waiting lists are beyond belief," she said.

"My son has Down Syndrome and a rare auto-inflammatory condition. We constantly hear people talking about early diagnosis and early treatment," she said.

However, Aisling warned that this is not happening for some children - with a waiting list of two-plus years for MRI scans in some areas.

She queried how the Government can suddenly find €1.2bn for a Brexit fund when the healthcare sector is crying out for extra staff and new hospitals.

"It is shameful and the Government are shameless," she said.

"Our children deserve the very best healthcare that we can provide for them. But that is simply not happening in Ireland," she said.

"God only knows what will happen if this so-called Aussie flu arrives this winter. How will the system cope."

Aisling pointed out that a major paediatric rheumatology unit in Dublin should have six doctors - but is has been operating with just two.

A third promised in early 2019 for the unit had still not been provided.

She said there is a three year waiting list.

Further, she said that staff shortages and waiting lists for key in-hospital tests and scans means some children face the very real prospect of a five year diagnosis period.

"What is the story with SláinteCare? Why isn't that fully up and running? You only have to look at the Irish healthcare system to realise what the problems are. We lost 20,000 nurses from the system.

It is disgraceful the way health staff have been treated."

Aisling pointed out that her son, who has endured multiple hospitalisations, had been expected to be treated in the long-delayed new national children's hospital but it remains years from completion.

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