Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has described the news that cancer patients in the public health system will not get access to certain new and potentially lifesaving  drugs that those in private hospitals will get, as ‘a new low’. The Sinn Féin TD said it highlights the two-tier health system that has evolved under this Fine Gael government supported by Fianna Fáil.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“The news that private patients will have access to the cancer drugs pembrolizumab and nivolumab, which have been denied to patients in the public system, shows just how far and unfair the two tier healthcare has evolved under this Fine Gael government supported by Fianna Fáil.

“Potentially lifesaving new drugs will now be available to private insurance holders in a handful of elite private hospitals. It is grossly unfair that pembrolizumab and nivolumab are being denied to patients in the public system while those with the means to pay can access them in private hospitals.

“This decision is a new low. It is an indictment of those politicians who are making decisions on the funding of our health system and clearly making a complete bags of it, as we can see with the enormous overruns of the National Children’s Hospital.”

Crowe continued:

“The public drug approvals process has hit a brick wall over the past number of years as the HSE drugs budget for new medicines has been cut and completely underfunded.

“It is political decisions that have caused this. The underfunding of the HSE budget for new medicines means that the HSE can’t approve drugs which it would normally fund and has funded in previous years.

“This decision completely undermines the public health service and makes a complete mockery of Sláintecare, which focuses on the elimination of the subsidy for private healthcare.

“The public health system is crumbling under this mismanagement and a lack of funding. The public-private divide in the health service is growing under this Fine Gael government with the full support of Fianna Fáil.

“This unfairness also has echoes of the recent revelations that women in the public system are left waiting for up to 33 weeks for results of smear tests, while those who can pay get their results back in 3 weeks.

“This latest decision is a new low and is the direct outworking of a government policy that promotes wealth and elites over the public good.”