Monday 11 December 2017

Fianna Fáil wants to 'return control of health budget' to HSE

Fianna Fail TD Billy Kelleher
Fianna Fail TD Billy Kelleher

Daniel McConnell Group Political Correspondent

Fianna Fáil says it will not abolish the Health Service Executive and it intends handing back full budgetary control to the agency.

A draft copy of the party's plan, produced by TD Billy Kelleher, has been seen by, and says the party is also keen to phase out alcohol sponsorship over five years.

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

At a meeting of the party's front bench, Mr Kelleher briefed colleagues on its proposals including a new 20 per cent sugar tax and advertising bans on food that contain high levels of fat, salt and sugar before 9pm.

The draft 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 draft 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.

The plan is due to be officially launched next Tuesday.

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