Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
8 January 2018
The continuing crisis in the health service has once again brought into sharp relief a crumbling public health system, with more than five hundred patients now lying on trolleys in dangerous conditions, whether with regard to medical treatment and disease control or to fire safety. This is due to the decades-long closure of wards and A&E units and cuts in health budgets.
At the same time we have witnessed the growth of private hospitals and clinics and private medical insurance companies.
The Irish state is not willing to solve the crisis, as it has given priority to the development of private health treatment over public health provision, with the treatment of patients either through the “Treatment Purchase Scheme” or now through moving patients into private hospitals. This is the transfer of public resources to fill the coffers of private health operators.
The Irish public health service has the second-lowest number of hospital beds among OECD countries.
There is clear evidence that a significant number of consultants with dual contracts, whereby many consultants have both public and private practices, are not fulfilling public contractual duties.
The only remedy is the complete separation of public and private medical provision. No public health facilities should be used for private treatment.
Cuba, a country of just over 11 million people, illegally blockaded for nearly five decades, has faced massive restrictions on its capacity to import medicines. Yet it has trained thousands of doctors and other medical personnel for dozens of countries free of charge. Eighty thousand Cuban medical personnel have been in the front line around the world, dealing with Ebola disease as well as earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters.
Within Cuba the health service is completely free at all levels.
That is the clear difference between a health service under socialism and a health service under capitalism. Capitalism gives priority to the profits of global medical and pharmaceutical monopolies over the welfare of working people.