Minister for Health Leo Varadkar (FG)

THREE Fianna Fail councillors have challenged Health Minister Leo Varadker’s “sketchy” plan for the future of the health service.
Dublin City Council’s Jim O’Callaghan, Catherine Ardagh and Sean Haughey have warned that 2016 will be difficult for the hospitals in their wards – St James’s, St Vincent’s and Beaumont. The trio agree that the 2016 HSE Service Plan “will do nothing to alleviate the crisis in our hospitals”.
Minister Varadkar has refuted their claims. His spokesperson told the Gazette: “Cllr O’Callaghan’s party destroyed the economy and slashed health spending after the economic crash.”
Cllr O’Callaghan of Rathmines-Rathgar, who is contesting the election in Dublin Bay South, has accused the Minister of having no proper plan or vision for the health service and warned that 2016 would be difficult for St Vincent’s Hospital.
Cllr O’Callaghan’s comments come as latest figures show outpatient waiting lists at St Vincent’s have “dramatically increased by more than 500% since the Minister took over the portfolio”. He said: “Since Leo Varadkar took over there has been an astonishing 540% increase in the number of people on outpatient waiting lists at St Vincent’s for more than 12 months.”
The Minister’s spokesperson said: “We have already provided €117m in extra resources specifically for overcrowding, and a further €51m to address waiting lists over the last year.”
Cllr Ardagh of Crumlin Kimmage, who is standing in Dublin South Central, highlighted the rise in the operation cancellations in St James’s under Varadkar. She said: “From January to September in 2015, 3,132 operations were cancelled in St James’.”
Similarly, North Central’s Cllr Sean Haughey, standing in Dublin Bay North, criticised Minister Varadkar over the outpatient waiting lists at Beaumont Hospital, saying they had increased by over 570% since July 2014.
All three politicians vehemently condemned the proposed cut in hospital funding of €100m and said the Health Minister was “out of his depth”.
A joint statement from the election hopefuls stated: “Varadkar refuses to acknowledge there is a national crisis and – to add insult to injury – cuts the hospital budget.”
Mr Varadkar’s said: “Even the Fianna Fail alternative budget for 2015 allocated no extra funding to address emergency department pressures or waiting lists.
“However, Fine Gael in Government stabilised health service spending and we secured an increase in the last two budgets of almost €1bn.”