Simon Harris urged to 'come clean' on Sláintecare plans

The Health Minister has been called on to 'come clean' on plans for Sláintecare.

It comes after it emerged the government is considering making universal free GP care a long-term objective.

Under the all-party Slaintecare proposal, that policy was expected to be phased in over five years.

Joint leader of the Social Democrats, Roisin Shortall says the government needs to outline its plans for health care.

"I'd call on the Minister to come clean on this, to come out and tell us what exactly the government is going to do in relation to Sláintecare.

"Is it going to support it and is it going to implement it?

What we've been told today in relation to phasing in was already in Slaintecare and also that there would be a prioritisation of the extension of free GP care.

Labour's Alan Kelly TD called for the publication of Harris's three-year implementation strategy provided to the Cabinet.

"Minister Harris should publish the implementation plan and proposals he brought to Cabinet last week on the recommendations in the Sláintecare report," he said.

"If there are 104 actions to be taken over three years, we should see what the proposed implementation strategy is.

"The reports today would indicate that Fine Gael is quickly backing away from the core proposals of the plan to introduce a single-tier health system in Ireland and a shift towards investment in primary care services.

Moving towards a phased rollout of free GP on the basis of income will be time-consuming, and mean the introduction of costly means testing ensuring that the benefits of the proposals will be lost in bureaucracy.

"Previous budgets made commitments to free GP for children up to the age of 12. We haven't seen any progress on that after three years.

"If they are ruling out any further expansion in this year's budget then Sláintecare will be delayed again."

Digital Desk

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