On Thursday evening I attended a packed meeting in the Crowne Plaza Hotel organised by the Defend Blanchardstown Hospital Campaign.
The hospital has become a major issue in this campaign. You only need to knock at about 10 doors here in Dublin 15 to get an impression of the genuine fear that exists about the level of service provision in Connolly and in particular, about the future of the A&E department.
After hearing presentations from some of the staff in the hospital, myself and some of the other By-Election candidates spoke, outlining our concerns regarding the current provision of services and what we felt we could do if elected on 27th October. This was followed by questions and answers with the audience.
I outlined my commitment to firstly maintain the full 24 hour A&E service onsite in Connolly and secondly, to fight to against other damaging cutbacks within the hospital.
If I am elected, I’ll use the platform the Dail gives as a means of calling the Department of Health and particularly the HSE to account. In particular, I will seek to get a position on the Oireachtas Health Committee. At the moment, none of the current Dublin West TDs sit on this committee. Giving Dublin West a voice on the Health Committee would be beneficial as it can call in the HSE Management Team, question them, and get clarity on its spending, organisational and staffing priorities for Connolly.
As I would not be constrained by any party whip, I believe I could work effectively in the Dail to hold the HSE to account and oppose cuts which would impair the hospitals major functions.
I also outlined to the meeting my plan for guaranteeing increased funding for health services in the country in the medium to long term. I would propose to the Constitutional Convention that the Government has promised that a right to healthcare be enshrined within the Constitution. This would mean that, irrespective of the ideological make-up of any future government, it would be forced to spend money within the health care system.
Had this happened between 1997-2007, we would have emerged from the boom years with much better health infrastructure, and there would have been last money to waste on the various property based tax-breaks that pump-primed our economy and have resulted in so much damage.
There is a major march planned in support of the hospital planed for Saturday 22nd October, starting at 1:00PM. I’ll be attending to demonstrate the importance of the hospital to myself and the entire community in Dublin 15.