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Morris expresses anger at threat to medical cards, healthcare salaries

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Sinn Féin’s Tipperary General Election candidate Cllr. Séamie Morris has expressed his anger at reports that the Government is proposing further reductions in the numbers in receipt of medical cards, and at the HSE suggestion of withholding increments for up to 30,000 staff.

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Cllr Morris said: “In the same week that nurses prepared for industrial action to get Government to pay attention to the problems in the Emergency Departments in hospitals, we also learn that there is also consideration of a reduction in those with medical cards, and that the HSE is considering withholding increments from up to 30,000 healthcare staff.”

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“It makes me angry that this same HSE had to be brought to the negotiating table by industrial action to recruit much-needed staff, while at the same time the HSE is considering reducing the entitlements for existing staff. Retention of good staff has to be a priority for any employer, and the HSE is no different. This sends the wrong signal entirely, and certainly won’t help staff morale, which is the key to staff productivity.”

“The Irish Times has also reported that there will be at least 50,000 less medical cards in 2016. Apparently this is expected because of increased numbers in employment. But we have seen that many of the newly-created jobs are low-paying. These are exactly the kind of workers who may end up in poverty-traps, as their income is often not enough to cover medical expenses, while their pay level exceeds the income threshold for a medical card.”

“It is precisely for such people that Sinn Féin has proposed creating a new category of ‘medical need’ medical card, rather than only sticking with the obviously unsuccessful income threshold model.”

“This Government has repeatedly shown itself to be incapable of imagination, preferring to resolve any issues with only the imagination of bookkeepers and accountants. They have shown that it’s far too easy for them to say ‘cut’ than to say ‘invest’, and these latest reports do nothing to change this perception.”

“Sinn Féin’s release yesterday of a pathway to universal healthcare shows imagination and concern for the end-user and the healthcare delivery worker. The plan seeks to use the fiscal space predicted by the Department of Finance to improve the lot of ordinary workers, and to pro-actively improve the health of the nation.”

“Minister Varadkar could do worse than take a look. The policy is very comprehensive, and prioritises the need of the patient rather than the accountant.”

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