Don't shut the Heath Service again - Cllr Sarah O'Reilly, Aontú

I, the undersigned, call on the government not to shut down the Health Service again.

In the first wave of Covid the government closed down whole swathes of the health service. This led to drastic results:

- There are 613,000 people on hospital outpatient waiting lists right now. This is an increase of over 60,000 since the start of the year.
- There are 850,000 people waiting for some form of health treatment.
- 200,000 women have been put on Cancer screening waiting lists directly because of the service shut down by the government in the first half of last year.
- At least 2,000 cancer diagnosis have been missed also.

While doing our best to reduce Covid cases let us not forget that 480 people will get cancer today. 24 people will die of cancer today. Every day 27 people die of Heart Disease and Stroke in this state. Mental Health services collapsed during the first lockdown. This cannot be allowed to happen again given the pressures that are now widespread in society. Hospital avoidance was massive during the first wave and it cost many people dearly. Delayed diagnosis means delayed treatment which for many will mean increased ill health and a times death.

Already we are getting information of whole scale appointment cancellations.  The inability to truly ramp up capacity in our health services and the closing down again of key health services is a scandal.

In the first half of last year Simon Harris launched an “Ireland on Call plan” that had 70,000 people step forward to subscribe. Despite the pressure Health Care Staff are under, this is nowhere to be seen.

After €18 billion in extra spending during the last budget the dial has hardly been turned on hospital capacity and now critical diagnosis and treatment will be withheld and delayed to cancer, heart disease, stroke and mental health patients.

The Government are negotiating with Private Hospitals for extra capacity. However they had previously sought access to 40% of private hospital beds.

While we are entering into a significant Covid surge, it is critical that the government don’t make the same catastrophic mistake that they made at the start of last year. Covid is not the only illness in the country.