End the scandal of a two-tier health service

By Rita Harrold

Successive governments have presided over the implementation of cuts and austerity that have devastated our health service. We have a criminal situation where the existence of a two-tier health system means if you want to have proper access to healthcare you must pay up.

Over 100,000 people have been on outpatient waiting lists for over 18 months. With 9,714 patients. including 117 children, on trolleys in hospitals across the country, March of this year saw a 14%increase on the previous month. On the picket lines of paramedics you hear of the need for more ambulances as well as chronic shortages where rotas are being covered by overtime because there aren’t enough staff. These workers in the NASRA branch of the PNA are on strike for union recognition.

Relying on the private system

Approximately 45% of people in Ireland have private health insurance. Timely access to diagnostic

tests is one of the key issues pushing people towards expensive private services.

As we have seen with the Cervical Check scandal delays in diagnosis can have devastating consequences and people are afraid to take the risk and will pay to wait in a shorter queue so long as the public service is so under-resourced.

Separate Church & State

As well as private companies out to make a profit there is also the issue of church control. The government are essentially gifting the new National Maternity Hospital to a religious order. Needless to say, it is vital for obstetrics and gynaecology services to be free from religious interference.

We need to end church control of our hospitals and health services. A public outcry at the time cause the government to squirm, we need a movement from below to force full separation of church and state, the conservative political establishment aren’t willing to act.

Profiteering pharmaceutical companies

Pharmaceutical companies are holding sick people to ransom and charging outrageous fees for life-saving and quality of life-saving medications. Two examples in the Irish media recently are Orkambi which can help people with Cystic Fibrosis and the cancer drug Pembro.

In the US there have been reports of people with diabetes dying after trying the ration their insulin supply when prices doubled in 4 years. Public investment in pharmaceutical development is needed so that new drugs can be accessed by all who need them, not just those with the money. This industry must be brought into public ownership and taken out of the private ownership of the profiteers that control it.

A national health service

Mental health services, obstetrics and gynaecology, scoliosis treatment, the list of crisis points in the health service goes on. The Socialist Party is fighting for a national health service run for need, not profit. Only a properly funded national health service that is free at the point of use and under the democratic control of health workers and the wider working class can guarantee decent wages for health workers and proper healthcare for all.

Socialist Party stands for:

Increased public spending on health to reverse all austerity cuts

Pay restoration – no to two-tier pay

End the outsourcing of jobs in the health service – for all staff to be directly employed

For a fully funded, secular national public health service free at the point of use

Take all private hospitals, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies out of hands of profiteers by putting them into democratic public ownership.