Saturday 17 March 2018

Fianna Fail pledges to phase out alcohol sponsorship over five years

Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher
Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher
Daniel McConnell

Daniel McConnell

Fianna Fail will tomorrow pledge to phase out alcohol sponsorship over five years as it finally publishes its long awaited health policy.

The party says it will not abolish the Health Service Executive (HSE) and that it intends handing back full budgetary control to the agency.

The 47-page Health Policy 2015 plan also promises to increase the annual budget on primary care by €120m over five years.

Party health spokesperson Billy Kelleher will detail his proposals at an event in Dublin. He has previously faced criticism for the delays in his policy coming to fruition.

The policy also includes a new 20 per cent sugar tax and advertising bans on food that contain high levels of fat, salt and sugar before 9pm.

The plan outlines the party’s opposition to the introduction of Universal Health Insurance (UHI) arguing in favour of a tax-funded system which is controlled by Government.

It states: “It prioritises health care for the most vulnerable and those who cannot afford to pay towards their care. There will be one purchaser of care and that purchaser will therefore retain maximum control and influence in price and budget negotiations.”

It is calling for a renegotiation of the GP contract and wants doctors to be taken on as “salaried employees” of the HSE.

The policy document proposes a “ring-fenced budget for reform” which it says will be in addition to the overall budget for the HSE.

The party will call for the National Treatment Purchase Fund to be re-established and will convene a special task force whose aim will be to ensure all scheduled day case/in patient care will be delivered within six months.

Under the plan, all hospitals will be required to have 8am to 8pm consultation times and to enforce them.

The document calls for action on delayed discharges and said there should be a two-week maximum period before more appropriate accommodation is provided. Home help hours will be increased year on year to meet demand.

The party says in relation to alcohol, the Government’s decision not to ban alcohol companies sponsorship in sport. It said Fianna Fail will commit to phasing this out over five years. Mr Kelleher said 20pc  tax on sugar drinks would generate €57.5 million.

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