Health Minister Refuses To Appear At Dáil Covid Committee

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Health Minister refuses to appear at Dáil Covid Committee today over plans to return to two-tier health system

People Before Profit TD calls for the nationalisation of private health capacity

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has condemned the refusal of Minister Simon Harris to appear before the Dáil Covid Committee to answer questions from elected representatives before the state hands back control of the private hospitals, which would see a return to the two-tier health system.

The Dáil Covid Committee is to hold a session today on the use of private hospitals, the continuation of treatment and capacity building and use of facilities.

The Dún Laoghaire TD, on Friday, wrote to the Dáil Covid Committee requesting the attendance of the Health Minister at the committee today, given the recent announcement that the government intends to return much of the private hospital capacity to the private health service.

However, in answer to Deputy Boyd Barrett’s request that the Minister should attend this afternoon’s session, alongside representatives from the HSE and Department of Health, Michael McNamara TD, chair of the Covid Committee, this morning told Deputy Boyd Barrett that the Minister had refused “to avail of the request” to attend today. 

Deputy Boyd Barrett will be speaking at this afternoon’s Covid Committee session on behalf of People Before Profit.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD said: “Today at the Dáil Covid Committee there is a very important discussion to be had about the governments suggestions that they will return private hospital capacity to the private sector and in effect return us to the dysfunctional and under resourced two-tier health system.

“While the current €115 million per month arrangement with private hospitals is unacceptable, the answer is not to return to a dysfunctional two-tier system, but rather to move forward to a single tier national health system by immediately nationalising private hospital capacity. 

“On Friday last, I wrote to the Covid Committee asking that they call on the Minister to attend. His presence at the committee today is vital as many of the questions that I and others will have might not be answerable by officials.

“For the Minister for Health to refuse to attend the committee today and answer questions, of what is an entirely political issue of the return to two-tier healthcare is totally unacceptable and renders the debate at today’s Covid committee largely redundant.”