The indiscriminate health cuts, which are being proposed this year, are a serious concern of mine. My belief is that 2014 will be a massively challenging year for our health service, with €666 million in cuts leading to 35,000 over 70’s loosing their full medical cards through lowering income thresholds, along with a hike in prescription charges to €2.50.
Unemployed people with medical cards who return to work will automatically lose their full cards. Until now, they were able to retain full cards for three years. 22,000 people will now lose full medical cards under the new measures and we are still two years away from the proposed free GP care for the whole population.
A further cut in health staff numbers of 2,600 in 2014 leaves in very concerned that the €666 million cuts target will seriously limit services and hit patient safety and patient care. Furthermore, acute public hospitals will have to make do with nearly €250 million less in funding from the State this year. The HSE is projecting there will be about 3,000 fewer in-patients treated in public hospitals this year compared to 2013.
The number of day-case procedures carried out is also expected to fall by about 24,000 under the HSE plan for 2014. This will only lead to serious compromise to patient care.
I will continue working at holding the Government and HSE accountable to ensure we get the proper health service we are entitled to have.