NURSES’ AND MIDWIVES’ UNION the INMO is warning that the cuts to the Health Budget announced last week will have a severe effect on patients.
Health Minister James Reilly has been under increasing pressure since confirmation last Tuesday that a further €666 million is to be taken out of the Department’s Budget in 2014.
The adjustment is to include a review of medical cards aimed at saving €113 million, and €268 million in pay-related savings.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called yesterday for Reilly to step down from his role, saying he was incapable of answering “even basic questions” about his role. His Fine Gael colleagues meanwhile rallied round the embattled Minister, with junior finance minister Brian Hayes saying he was “the most suitable person” to tackle to job.
In a statement this morning, the INMO said the Government had missed an opportunity by not introducing revenue-raising public health measures in areas like smoking, alcohol and sugar-sweetened drinks.
The union also says that, in the context of the swingeing cuts the Department is being faced with, the the Government should have considered a marginal increase in the VAT rate for the hospitality sector. It says a 1 per cent increase would yield almost €100 million in extra revenue.
According to INMO General Secretary Liam Doran: “We have closely analysed the government’s actions, in cutting the health service for the sixth successive year, while failing completely to introduce positive, revenue raising, public health measures.
“The actions of government, in this area, are completely inexplicable, contrary to proper health planning and must be clarified immediately.
“The health service in the frontline is now very efficient, but under real strain, due to lack of resources.
“It is not a ‘black hole’ and the government should not be swayed by others who, to protect their massive profits, resist any new/additional taxes or levies on their products even though they lead to cancer, obesity and anti-social behaviour.”
Doran says the union will be seeking an immediate meeting with the Oireachtas Committee on Health to discuss the planned cuts. The measures will also be high on the agenda at an INMO special delegate conference to be held tomorrow in Croke Park.