Baxter slams hospital sell-off plan

Plans to sell off public hospital land for private, profit-making hospitals were slammed this week by Labour candidate Hughie Baxter. Mr. Baxter said that Health Minister Mary Harney must not be allowed to proceed with her plans for the sell-off. ‘Despite the Taoiseach’s assurances that contracts would not be signed before the election, the Health Minister is proceeding with the tender process which would have the effect of contractually binding the Government.’ Mr. Baxter claimed that the Minister should focus on providing extra beds to solve the A&E crisis, and on dealing with the nurses’ claims for fair treatment by the HSE. ‘Once again we see Mary Harney, ably assisted by the Taoiseach, ignoring the real problems in the health system and proceeding with plans to use public lands for privatised, profit-taking health care. The government has no mandate whatsoever for this plan which will worsen the two-tier system – put simply, if you don’t have money you wait; if you have money, you jump the queue. The Labour Party is committed to scrapping this plan. ‘Neither Fianna Fáil nor the PDs are capable of solving the problems of our public health service, because they are committed to its destruction. They want to sell off public lands so their friends can profit from health care. Similarly, their plans under the Hanley Report to downgrade hospitals like Roscommon have not gone away – they’re just hiding until after the next election. ‘The PDs are ideologically committed to privatisation and competition. It’s a simplistic, religious belief that competition will solve all our problems. Even when the evidence of failures such as the eircom sell-off is obvious to everyone else, they persist in adhering to this misguided dogma. Meanwhile, the Fianna Fáil dog is willing to be wagged by the PD tail, so long as nothing is done to bother their property speculator friends.’