Health Care is essential to human wellbeing, but our current services are highly unequal. The richest people have gold plated access whereas poorer people are made to wait. Poorer people suffer greater health problems and die earlier than their wealthier counterparts. People Before Profit want to end this health apartheid. Our goal is to use resources to track patients’ needs rather than paperwork or private profits. This involves moving towards a National Healthcare System paid for through progressive taxation. The World Health Organisation emphasizes that truly ‘Universal’ care needs to be available to all and cover costs including medication, dentistry, hearing and vision, psychotherapy, physiotherapy and so on. This is far from reality in the Irish system, however. Successive right-wing governments have entrenched inequalities in health and wealth. They have cut funding to the public service, particularly staff numbers, and used this as a lever to enrich the private sector. A single-tier service with free GP and hospital care was promised but never delivered. Successive governments have also promised to increase public hospital beds by 3,000 -to bring the total to 15,000 – but once again nothing has happened. In fact, Ireland still lags comparable countries with a bed capacity of 2.8 per thousand people compared to the EU average of 4.8. On the other hand, consultants get to draw huge salaries from both public and private practices. Hospital consultants are already on private salaries of over €150,000 a year, and the average consultant get the same again in fees, most of which are earned in public hospitals.
That is over €300 million a year wasted on ‘double pay’. In addition, healthcare has been targeted by private hospitals, nursing homes, insurance companies and drug companies. Simon Harris has facilitated this practice with cuts to public spending of up to 10%. Increased waiting times for treatments and continuous trolley crises are the most visible sign of systemic breakdown. The General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has stated that the situation represents a national emergency, while the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) state that the country’s hospitals are running an emergency service on a year-round basis. This system is failing patients and is not acceptable. People Before Profit wants to empower frontline staff and service users to develop Universal Health Care through a well-planned ‘National Health Service’.