Tuesday 18 September 2012
I second the amendment to the motion. I ask Members to cast their minds back to the health committee a number of years ago when we discussed the Travers report when a certain Minister was asked what he knew or who was responsible and his line of response was “I had no responsibility; I was not responsible.” That was Deputy
Micheál Martin, the then Minister for Health. Tonight we contrast that response with a Minister, in whom I have confidence, who has commenced the process of report and who is delivering a patient-centred and a patient-first health system.
The motion before us is a cynical political ploy by a party bankrupt and bereft of ideas and it ill behoves its members to come in here on speak on this after 14 years in government when they gleefully abandoned the Department of Health. They rubbed their hands and left the former Minister, Mary Harney, in there. They would not even take it on. They refused to go in there.
This motion, at its core, is about how we can bring reform to our political system and to our health system. Deputy Martin promised an end to the Punch and Judy politics but he has not stayed true to that line – he has abandoned it. His party abandoned it for the last 18 months and it abandoned it during the 14 years it was in government. The Galway tent and the friends act is over. There is a new politics.
This Minister will drive reform, and he will do so with the people who work diligently in our health service.
These are the people who, with this Minister, will show us that we have a health system that will be fit for purpose and that will not be in the hands of the vested interests.
This is a Minister who has commenced the process of reform. The reform, as he said in his contribution, is evidenced in every item since he became Minister. I challenge the naysayers to look at what has been delivered under the auspices of the Croke Park agreement. Since last February we have not seen the end of the health system. There has been a reduction in the number of people on trolleys. We have seen more services being delivered.
We have not seen chaos in the city of Cork as alluded to by Deputy Micheál Martin last week, or Deputy Kelleher, because the figures in terms of reconfiguration were started by him. They proposed that treatments be removed from the orthopaedic hospital to the south infirmary. They moved BreastCheck from the south infirmary. They started that process, and they cannot hide behind the decisions any longer because they waved the flag. They wrote the prescriptions and they have now seen what happened in respect of that. The gentlemen opposite should get real about it because their policies have failed. Their ways did not work. They may have forgotten that their ways have bankrupted our country. They are the people who are the cause of where we are today, and they should never be allowed to forget that.
This Minister and this Government will put patients first, and that is what the health system must be about. It must be about the patient who goes in the door of the hospital. It is not about the money in one’s pocket or the colour of one’s political affiliation. It is about a Minister who will deliver, and if he does not deliver in four years we should have another debate about it but let us have the courage, for once in our lives, to take on the vested interests and the naysayers who have failed this country.