Fine Gael TD for Meath East and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has highlighted the double standard employed by Fianna Fáil leader, Micheal Martin, this morning when he admitted that it was his policy to overspend and require supplementary budgets while he was Minister for Health. This came the day after his outrageous claim that the Government’s health budget policy was putting people’s lives at risk.
“Micheál Martin admitted on Morning Ireland this morning that the Government intentionally and habitually overspent their health budget while he was Minister for Health. Deputy Martin blithely stated that he provided supplementary health funding as matter of policy, stating that extra funding was allocated ‘on demand led basis. We didn’t set a ceiling.’
“Contrast this with his outrageous statement yesterday that when this Government overspent on health and needed a supplementary budget we were, ‘putting people’s lives at risk’.
“Supplementary health budgets were the norm under Micheal Martin at time when the Government had more money than at any time in its history. Ireland’s health budget rose from €3 billion in 1997 to €15 billion in 2007. Despite this five fold increase in spending, Minister Martin and his Government colleagues regularly went back to the Minister for Finance demanding more money.
“In 1997, when Fianna Fáil came into government there were 65,000 staff in the health services. When Fianna Fáil left office the number of health staff was almost 120,000. The problems in running our health system were underscored by the disastrous way in which the HSE was created by Micheál Martin. Despite increasing health spending five fold, we got an inferior service, with a bloated and financially draining management class.
“When this Government provides extra funding to the health service on top of what was budgeted, Micheál Martin uses emotive and irresponsible language to try to frighten people who are reliant on the service. Yet when they occur under his watch he says they were Government policy.
“The reality is much simpler. Last year we allocated money to our health service based on projected needs. During the course of the year, it became clear that more money would be needed. The HSE’s service plan was modified and more money was found to ensure that the health service was run properly and safely. As such we have acted responsibly within the extremely challenging economic circumstances that Fianna Fáil bequeathed to the country.
“As Micheal Martin well knows, the current challenges in funding and running our health system have their roots in Fianna Fáil’s destruction of our economy and the incompetent manner in which he set up the HSE.
“Fianna Fáil still has no health policy, nor did it in its Party manifesto before the last general election. Micheál Martin is high on criticism but short of solutions. Instead of using fear to mislead the public about the health system, he should sit down with his health spokesperson and try and come up with a health policy.”