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Barnardos’ cautious welcome for health initiative

THE  formal launch  on Wednesday of the Government’s plan for delivering universal health insurance, promising all Irish people access to healthcare based on need and not ability to pay, has been welcomed by Barnardos.  The children’s charity has  warned, however, the plan must not be thwarted before it has begun by unrealistic budgeting.

Fergus Finlay, CEO of Barnardos, said, “We welcomed the Government’s vision to reform healthcare in Ireland in 2011 and continue to believe this vision will serve all children and families far better than the current system. It is the most radical reform of the delivery of health services in years and aims to establish a more equal and equitable system which is well needed and long overdue.

“Budget 2014’s pledge to introduce free GP care for the under sixes was a small step in the right direction, but was operating in a policy vacuum. This White Paper on Universal Health Insurance must be translated into equal access to healthcare for all children and families.

“The health system in Ireland is grossly unfair and the current two-tier system that prioritises access for those able to pay must be replaced. Access to healthcare must be based on need rather than ability to pay – children’s health, well-being and lives depend on it.

“However we are concerned the strict cost neutral mantra will stifle the development of a comprehensive and fair system of healthcare delivery. There is a huge danger that such cost containment measures will undermine the process from the outset. Failing to invest in this at a critical stage will fail to deliver the very real long-term benefits to children and families and savings for the exchequer.”


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