Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called for a serious, national conversation on creating a National Health Service.
The Ireland South MEP was speaking as it was revealed by her Sinn Féin colleague and party Health Spokesperson, Louise O’Reilly TD, that the HSE has spent more than €44.5million on hiring private ambulances since 2011.
“It is astonishing that such a huge amount of public money has been spent on hiring a service with no long term benefit to the HSE,” she said.
“Had this money been invested in our health service, rather than being lavished on the private sector, it would have been enough to purchase more than 200 fully equipped ambulances, which the HSE would then own.
“This cannot be explained away by incompetence. This is part of a very deliberate cultural shift being fomented by Fine Gael in which all our vital public services are being nudged ever closer towards privatisation.
“In 2011 the HSE spent around €2million on hiring private ambulances, last year it was over €9million.
“This is not happening in isolation. Ever since Fine Gael got into Government they have been gradually increasing the pressure on piece by piece pushing public services towards privatisation.
“It’s time we started a real, national conversation on the creation of a National Health Service.
“As this issue with the ambulances has shown there is money there, it’s a matter of how and where it is used. We can continue to lavish it on the private sector while the HSE is drained of funds, resources and equipment, or we can begin to make plans for a fundamental overhaul of how our health service is run, an overhaul that will serve us for generations.”