Yesterday (February 2) saw the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation add another two strike dates to the five that are already planned for the month of February. The Psychiatric Nurses Association too are engaged in industrial action, in the form of an overtime ban, a major step in a sector with a 40% vacancy rate.
In total, close to 45,000 nurses and midwives are now engaged in industrial action to secure not only better conditions and wages for themselves, but also better conditions for their patients. They are fighting for the rights of some of the most vulnerable people in our society - for their right to receive high-quality healthcare in a dignified setting and a timely manner.
At the same time, it has emerged that the cost of building the new National Children’s Hospital may rise to a staggering two billion Euro, as a host of private construction, engineering, architectural, consultancy and other companies gorge themselves on public monies.
The nurses strike and NCH cost overrun are symptoms of a wider health service in permanent crisis. Decades of under-funding and pandering to vested interests by successive governments have resulted in waiting lists with 700,000 people on them and infrastructure that is simply not fit for purpose.
The Éirígí Democratic Programme For A New Republic calls for the creation of a new all-Ireland National Health Service - a service that will be secular and single-tier. The text of that Healthcare section of our Democratic Programme is reproduced below.
A New National Health Service For A New Republic
”While underfunded and under-resourced, the British National Health Service continues to function in the Six Counties. In the Twenty-Six Counties, however, there exists a bizarre hybrid system which allows the private sector to profiteer from publicly-funded equipment in public hospitals using medical staff who are trained at public expense. This parasitic relationship has flourished under the patronage of successive Dublin governments which have lacked both the vision and the political will to create a system of universal healthcare.
The failure to properly fund and resource the public health system on both sides of the border has resulted in hundreds of thousands of citizens waiting unacceptable periods of time for essential medical treatment, with predictably horrific consequences. Human health and lives are, quite literally, being sacrificed to protect the interests of insurance companies, elite medical practitioners and politicians.
The New Republic will establish a secular Irish National Health Service to provide high-quality healthcare to all citizens from the womb to the tomb. Within this new service medical treatment will be determined on the basis of medical need alone.
All existing medical facilities, medical practices and medical training facilities will be brought under public control and integrated into a single-tier public health service.”