Waterford general election candidate Mary Butler (FF) has accused Health Minister Leo Varadkar of ‘giving up’ on University Hospital Waterford (UHW).
Cllr Butler, who chaired a meeting on local health service provision in the Granville Hotel on Thursday last, claimed Fine Gael is now openly pursing a “right-wing privatisation agenda for the health service”.
“The latest announcement from Minister Varadkar on how he believes Ireland’s hospitals should be made into private trusts is a step too far,” she said.
“UHW has been neglected and swept aside by this government. The Emergency Department is under constant pressure and waiting times for inpatient and outpatients appointments are way too long – there has been a 55 per cent increase in the numbers of patients on trolleys in October 2015 compared to 2014.”
Cllr Butler offered this reaction, having quoted Minister Varadkar who said last week: “Where hospitals consistently under perform in terms of clinical outcomes, patient experience and financial management, it should be open to the provider to transfer management of the hospital for a period of time to a private provider.” This, in the Portlaw native’s view, was outrageous.
“The Minister is literally talking about the public service obligations of a hospital being handed over to a private operator to run as they see fit,” she claimed.
“Just last week I held a public meeting in Waterford in which people told me they want the health service to work better. They want it to be more efficient and more patient-focussed. The Minister may have the given up on Waterford Hospital but I haven’t.
“This policy from Fine Gael is extreme to say the least. It should be binned as it will create more inequity rather than less.
“Considering the Labour Party is hoping to save seats off the back of Fine Gael’s support their silence on this issue should not come as a surprise – but it is certainly a cause for serious concern.”