Saturday 21 September 2019

Varadkar trying to 'edit the news' to downplay HSE problems, claims Fianna Fáil

Simon Harris and Leo Varadkar Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Simon Harris and Leo Varadkar Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been accused of trying to “edit the news” in a bid bury problems in the health service.

The Taoiseach is under attack for allegedly trying to downplay financial stresses facing the HSE.

A budget plan for the health body launched  before Christmas made little reference to spending issues – but information released under FOI revealed HSE bosses raised concerns with the Department of Health.

Mr Varadkar suggested in the Dáil that the HSE purposely “monitising every problem” in writing so that the information could be leaked to the media or revealed through FOI requests.

“We all need to acknowledge this false proposition that is always put forward that there is a direct connection between money and investment and outcomes for patients,” he said.

However, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin launched a broadside on the Taoiseach, saying there was “no greater leaker of information” than himself while he was a minister.

He said there was an attempt “to cover up the truth” and “paper over the cracks” about health funding.

Mr Martin argued the HSE are being told “to bury negative stuff”.

Mr Varadkar responded that the State has set out almost €15bn for health in 2018, leaving Ireland “among the top five in the world in terms of spending per head”.

He said there are “no secrets” in the HSE or Department of Health.

“I understand the Deputy’s attachment to the HSE. It is after all his creation,” he said.

Online Editors

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