I have consistently challenged the centre of excellence model as put forward by the current Government in relation to health services in the Mid-West.

Most recently I used my time during a Fine Gael Private Members Motion to outline the manner in which centralisation has failed the Mid-West, and created added pressure on services at the Mid-West Regional Hospital, Limerick.

Following representations, Minister of Health Mary Harney had committed to meeting with all Clare Oireachtas TDs last week prior to her resignation this week.

I also drew attention to the exorbant rises in VHI medical care as announced in recent weeks, which went almost unnoticed by Government.

Clearly there is merit in some centralisation of services. But, the manner in which centralisation has operated in County Clare has pushed healthcare provision in the County back decades, in my view.

We need a new vision for healthcare and Fine Gael has that vision, led by James O’Reilly and others within the party.”

Speech by Joe Carey TD to the Fine Gael PMM on

Health Services 19th January 2011

What we have seen in January  – both in the A&E departments of our hospitals and in the Boardroom of the VHI are the results of a fundamentally flawed approach, to the delivery of Health services in this country.

The Centre of Excellence model has been put forward as the solution to our Health problems. I don’t reject the concept but I do reject and oppose the actual reality of what this model of Health care has resulted in. The facts are that over the Christmas period scores of people were left on trolleys and chairs in Limerick Regional Hospital in our so called Centre of Excellence. A sign was erected in the A&E informing patients of a 14 hour waiting period. You see Minister – The hope of a better service has not been backed up by the investment required and indeed the promises made to the people of Clare and the Mid West. Merely empty words, which is of very little comfort to the 18 patients left on trolleys today in Limerick Regional Hospital and 9 in Ennis General Hospital.

The Mid-West has been at the coalface of this transformation with the closing of 24 hour A&E at Ennis & Nenagh. It is a damming indictment of your policy Minister that Limerick Regional Hospital has featured prominently as one of the worst performing hospitals in the Country as per the recently Health Stats Report in terms of A&E waiting times and people on Trolleys. The people at the frontline – the Nurses, Doctors & Staff in our hospital system are at not able to cope.

Prior to Christmas I raised in an adjournment debate fears in relation to the removal of cardiac service from Ennis General. The four Clare Oireachtas member had a subsequent meeting in Ennis with staff members. At that meeting it was agreed that Minister Harney would be asked to facilitate a meeting to outline in detail her plans for future services in the Hospital.

I welcome Minister Harney’s commitment today to Deputies Breen, Dooley and I – that such a meeting will take place at the earliest opportunity. It’s critical that the current services provided at Ennis General Hospital are retained and that a clear statement is issued following our meeting confirming this position.

The hikes proposed by the VHI are scandalous and in this environment are quite simply unaffordable. It’s my understanding that the Milliman report which was presented to the Minister in September has identified massive inefficiencies at the VHI. It’s natural that an institution in place, for so long, without competition for much of its existence, would evolve in this way. This evening Minister I’m calling on you – to publish this report immediately and have it debated and not hide behind the cloak of commercial sensitivities.

It beggars belief that despite a 2008 court judgement – that the Minister has yet to deal comprehensively with risk equalisation. It’s a core issue which can’t be ignored while the VHI plough on with their intention to increase premiums by 70 to 80%

I commend Deputy Reilly in bringing this motion to the House and urge the Minister to act on its proposals.