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The Irish Nurses Organisation Says One Billion Euro Cut Spells Catastrophe For Irish Health Services. 24/02/09

PRESS RELEASE

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

“A one billion euro cutback in the health services would equate to the complete closure of 4 of the major Dublin Hospitals” according to Dave Hughes, Deputy General Secretary, INO.  Those hospitals, he said, provide their services on a budget of circa 250 million euro per annum each.  While the cutbacks will not be achieved through such closures, the consequences of them, would be catastrophic and would see the closure of hospitals, the elimination of entire services and draconian cuts in intellectual disability services and mental health.

The scale of a one billion euro cutback is way beyond anything witnessed in Ireland before and, he said, in terms of jobs, it represented between 8,000 and 10,000 possible job losses.

Mr Hughes said that the HSE from the outset this year had indicated the requirement to trim 300 million euro from its existing costs in order to cope with the spiralling additional expense arising from increasing unemployment.  The trade unions had been working with the HSE in an Accord aimed at protecting patient care while living within the cost containment measures - “that task was always going to be challenging and its purpose was to avoid industrial conflict.  A programme of 1 billion euro of cuts will blow any possible Accord out of the water.”

Mr Hughes concluded that the only alternative to the cutbacks was for Government to recognise that the health service budget could not comprehend the unforeseen increase in medical card expenditure combined with the decrease in contributions from the health levy which had caused the current problem.  He said “for example the Department of Social, Family and Community Affairs must receive additional funding as unemployment rises and so should the health service in respect of the welfare provision it provides to unemployed members of the community.”

The public will rightly ask how banks can be granted in excess of 7 billion euro this year while already overstretched health services are to be further dissipated by a reduction of 1 billion euro.

Public confidence in the Government’s ability to fairly address the problems facing the economy will be further shattered by crippling health cuts.  Mr Hughes called for “the freezing of the assets of Mr Sean Fitzpatrick, the ten mystery Anglo Irish investors and its top 15 customers who, he said, it is alleged owe the state bank in excess of 7.5 billion euro, in light of the fact that two Government Ministers have now accused those people of national economic treason.”

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Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (Cumann Altrai agus Ban Cabhrach na hEireann). The Whitworth Building, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. T:+353 1 664 0600 E:inmo@inmo.ie