Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) said that Fianna Fáil’s Health Spokesperson, Billy Kelleher, should get his facts straight before he falsely accuses the Government of something that he is so poorly informed about. Deputy Doherty was speaking after Deputy Kelleher wrongly claimed the Minister for Health, James Reilly, had appointed a special advisor to the Special Delivery Unit.
“Deputy Kelleher was quick to express his ‘outrage’ on this issue, but clearly what he should have done was check his facts first. I am happy to clear up any confusion for Deputy Kelliher’s sake. Lis Nixon, who is a healthcare expert, has been appointed Director for Performance Improvement for Unscheduled Care. She was appointed after an advertising tender process. She is not a special advisor; she is filling an executive position and will be reporting directly to the Chief Operating Officer of the SDU, Tony O'Brien.
“Deputy Kelleher’s false claims were not only misguided, in my opinion they are grossly unfair to Ms Nixon. She has an exemplary record in tackling the very issue the Special Delivery Unit is addressing; overcrowding in Emergency Departments. For the past ten years she has worked in the UK at national level in performance improvement, mostly in relation to Emergency Departments, and has been instrumental in reducing the waiting times in these departments.
“I also find it incredible that Deputy Kelleher could suggest that the Special Delivery Unit has not made any progress. Yet again, this is completely incorrect. The SDU has been making steady work on reducing the number of people on trolleys since it was set up by Minister Reilly last year. The SDU achieved a huge amount in its first six months alone; trolley figures for January of this year were down 27% on the figures for the same month in 2010.
“Fianna Fáil left this country with an overburdened and ailing health system. After 14 years in Government, the Party failed to deliver any significant reform in health, despite many years of bumper Exchequer revenues, based on even more dubious policies. Minister Reilly has embarked on the most ambitious programme of reform ever carried out in the Irish health service that will completely overhaul the way care is delivered in this country.
“Deputy Kelleher’s misinformed comments are not only wrong, they are a disservice to those who chose to vote for Fianna Fáil in the last election. It is little wonder that Sinn Fein is stealing a march on the Soldiers of Destiny, when they are resorting to such lazy tactics in a bid to validate their position on the Opposition benches.”