Pandemic shows need for a new Irish National Health Service as outlined in Labour’s Budget Plan

07 October 2020
  • Labour launches Alternative Budget “A New Social Contract” which sets out plan for a new Irish National Health Service (INHS).
  • First step towards an INHS is purchasing two private hospitals immediately to ensure ICU and bed capacity for the coming Winter.
  • Plan includes €550 million in new capital spending, and an additional €700 million in new current health spending.

Announcing the Labour Party’s “New Social Contract” Alternative Budget, Labour leader Alan Kelly set out a plan for an Irish National Health Service, starting with the purchase of two private hospitals immediately to ensure ICU and bed capacity during the COVID pandemic.

Deputy Kelly said:

“If this crisis has taught us anything, it is that our health service is very vulnerable and exposed. We saw this weekend how NPHET were proposing moving the entire country to level 5 because of the lack of capacity in ICU beds and hospitals. We are nowhere near being out of this pandemic and the chickens are coming home to roost for our failure to invest in public services over generations.

“We need a new Irish National Health Service, which is a single tier health service that gives treatment based on medical need an not ability to pay, and we need to start that process now by buying at least two private hospitals, preferably co-located hospitals. Labour has a costed budget with €450 million set aside for the purchase of these two hospitals, and we want the Government to move on this immediately.

“As we saw with the children’s hospital, we do not have a good track record of building hospitals in Ireland. In the middle of this pandemic, we need action now to give our healthcare heroes breathing room so they can cope if there is a further spike in COVID cases. What is more, this measure would pay for itself, because if it is a choice of going to Level 5, and all the tax that will be lost if we do that, or buying 2 hospitals, then it is a no brainer.

“In our costed budget, we also have over €700 million in new health spending, including €150 million for disability sector and day services, €90 million for home care packages and home care hours, and €80 million in mental health funding. This is vital money that is needed to deal with the knock-on effects of the pandemic, particularly those struggling with the social impact of Covid-19.”

“Also in our budget we commit to new funding to address the backlog for cancer screening, cancer services and cardiac care. Labour would invest in community diagnostics, and free GP care, alongside efforts to address the historical staff shortages while expanding medical card provision for those who are terminally ill and diagnosed with cancer.

“We need to create long lasting positive change as a result of this pandemic, and that starts with a new Irish national Health Service and a New Social Contract.”

Labour’s Alternative Budget ‘A New Social Contract – Protecting Workers, Families and Communities’ is available here:

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