Social Democrats co-leader brings ambitious healthcare reform plan to Dáil today

June 22, 2017

The Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD will today bring before parliament an ambitious plan for radical reform of Ireland’s broken health system.

The Sláintecare report is a unique road map for a modern universal healthcare system in which patients are treated promptly on the basis of need, rather than ability to pay.

Sláintecare has been drawn up by the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare chaired by deputy Shortall, who is a former junior minister in the Department of Health.

It is the first time that cross-party consensus has been reached on a new model of healthcare. Sláintecare contains detailed timelines for its proposals to be implemented on a phased basis.

Speaking ahead of this evening’s Dáil debate on the plan, Deputy Shortall said:

“Sláintecare would deliver for Ireland the sort of fair, affordable and effective public health system that we desperately need and deserve and which most of our European neighbours enjoy. This is the first time there has ever been cross-party consensus on how to deliver a modern universal healthcare system that meets the needs of all people based on their medical needs, not on their economic status.

“Sláintecare is a realistic and achievable plan – it’s about investing now to save later. It has been costed by health experts and has strong support among patient groups and medical practitioners. What we now need is a government commitment to implement this plan in its entirety. We can’t continue with our broken health system where patients are dying on waiting lists and families are impoverished because they have had to bear the costs of services that should be available free to all.”

The Sláintecare plan includes:

  • A new general health card, Cárta Sláinte, entitling everyone to a broad range of treatments and medicines, at low cost or for free. This will reduce out of pocket expenses for all.
  • Waiting time guarantees of 12 weeks for an inpatient procedure, 10 weeks for an outpatient appointment and ten days for a diagnostic test.
  • Delivery of at least 70% of peoples’ healthcare services locally in their community, including chronic illness management, diagnostic services and minor injury care.
  • More investment in preventative public health and the promotion of healthy lifestyles, mental well being, and early detection and management of chronic illness.
  • The phased elimination of private care from public hospitals. Everyone will be entitled to access public care in public hospitals. Those who have private health insurance will still be able to purchase care from private healthcare providers.
  • Significant upfront and ongoing investment, in the region of €2.8bn over a ten year period. A transitional fund of €3bn to support investment across the health system in areas such as infrastructure, e-health and expansion of training capacity.
  • A Sláinte Implementation Office to be set up under the auspices of An Taoiseach by July 2017, to develop a detailed implementation plan for the reform programme.

Tonight’s Dail debate on the Sláintecare report begins at 5.50p.m. It can be viewed live via the Oireachtas website,


22 June 2017