Ó Tuathail Says Government Has Been ‘Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish’ on Health

Niall Ó Tuathail, the Social Democrats Representative in Galway West

Social Democrats Galway West-South Mayo representative Niall Ó Tuathail has called for the government to “stop being penny-wise and pound-foolish” with our health system. This call comes as news emerged this week that operations are being cancelled in Merlin Park Hospital in Galway due to a leaking roof while senior doctors estimate that up to €5bn of government funds is needed for new hospitals across the country.

Ó Tuathail says that the crisis will get worse unless we quickly move more care outside of hospitals: “In the NHS, where I do most of my work, we are setting up community teams of doctors, nurses and social workers that both prevent illness and also allow people to get back home quickly and safely after being in hospital. It’s not only better for patients but it is a far cheaper way to take pressure off the system than building new hospitals. We have a choice ahead of us now of either changing how the health service works or continuing with an expensive hospital-based system which will mean either higher cost or people dying younger than they should.”

The Galway native suggests that Sláintecare, the report recently published by the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, provides a way forward: “Sláintecare is the first time in the history of the state that we have a cross-party plan for our health system. It would move our health system to focus more on prevention and providing basic care closer to home. While it would focus most of the investment in community and primary care, it does provide for targeted investment in hospitals so that issues like the Merlin Park leak would not happen. If implemented, the evidence says Sláintecare will save money but, more importantly, it will save lives.”