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This is Sinn Féin's radical new plan for universal healthcare

It would cost €3.3 billion and result in the hiring of thousands of doctors and nurses, the party says.

Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin.
Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

SINN FÉIN IS revealing its new plan for universal healthcare today.

The ambitious project would see the country move from the current two-tier public-private system towards an entirely public system, free at the point of delivery.

It would entail increasing spending on health by €3.3 billion over the next five years. Almost 7,000 doctors, nurses, dentists and administrators would be hired as part of the plan.

The party has argued that it is unfair to perpetuate the current system, with health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin telling the Dáil earlier this month he believes private health insurance to be “immoral”.

He said the sector needed to be transformed through progressive taxation, telling health minister Leo Varadkar “it is an ambitious plan, but one that can be achieved”.


Sinn Féin will launch an 80-page document fleshing out its proposals later today, while senior members will speak to the media at a launch in Dublin this morning.

The party says it will prioritise:

  • Automatic medical cards for children with disabilities
  • Free GP care for all, starting with lower income households 
  • The abolition of prescription charges 
  • Extension of free prescription drugs to all 
  • The removal of hospital charges 
  • The rollout of universal dental care 
  • The expansion of ambulance services

Sinn Féin in government would also prioritise “ending two-tier access to public hospital care”. It’s also advocating a new system of its own devising – an “integrated hospital waiting list management system” to cut waiting times.

13/06/2013. Dail Scenes. Pictured Sinn Fein Caoimh Health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland


A concerted campaign to keep nurses and doctors in the system and convince others who have left the country to return home would be launched, on the back of a sustained drive to improve working conditions.

Sinn Féin in government would, it says, recruit more than 6,600 doctors, nurses, dentists, administrators and other health professionals.

According to the party:

“We must guarantee this workforce that intolerable staff-to-patient ratios will be improved and sufficient resources will be forthcoming that will allow them to actually practice medicine and provide healthcare, not firefight and pen push.

This requires a commitment to ambitious multi-annual recruitment targets, with revenue allocated to back these up.

How would this be paid for?

The party says its ambitious plan will be paid for through progressive taxation (in other words – people who earn more will pay more).

“In order to deliver universal healthcare we need to increase capacity in the system and progressively replace private spending by members of the public with public spending.

Over the lifetime of the next government we have set out a year-on-year plan to move from a two-tier public-private system towards a universal healthcare system, free at the point of delivery and where access is based on need alone.

The implementation of the plan would require increasing spending by €3.3 billion. This would be achieved gradually, with increases in the health budget each year over a five year period.

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