The social conditions in which people live and work can help create or destroy their health. Lack of income, inappropriate housing, unsafe workplaces and lack of access to health care systems are some of the social determinants of health leading to inequalities. (World Health Organization [WHO], 2004)
Healthcare is a human right, from ‘the cradle to the grave’. As such this Health policy encompasses physical health, mental health and emotional wellbeing, child care and elder care. Access to quality healthcare should not be dependent on income. The long-standing policy whereby successive governments promote and incentivise the private healthcare industry is inefficient and discriminatory against those on low incomes. The role of government should be to create a universal healthcare system free at the point of entry which provides the highest possible level of care for all citizens, irrespective of social or economic factors.
The current healthcare crisis in Ireland, where hundreds lie on hospital trolleys and tens of thousands wait more than 12 months for appointments must be addressed. Any future government must acknowledge errors in past policies and invest in the mental and physical wellbeing of the nation, instead of a private industry. A well-funded and efficient public healthcare system would provide economic and social benefits for individuals and wider society in general.
- the right of access to all healthcare services regardless of income will be vindicated through free primary health and dental care, heavily subsidised prescription medicine and access to tertiary and outpatient services free at the point of use. In addition, we will substantially increase investment in nursing home care and mental health services.
- this policy provides for the right to accessible, high quality affordable care, including respite care, for vulnerable adults
The care of the vulnerable elderly and vulnerable children is increasingly commercialised. The complete absence of a public care infrastructure and the commercialisation of personal care coincide with a rise in forms of employment that are forcing people to live in ways that are so time-pressed that they have no time to care for those they love. The rise in precarious, insecure, and/or 24/7 working, long costly commutes and emigration make ‘caring’ unsustainable over time.
Civil society organisations are both the means and expression of more engaged citizens. The fundamental democratic role of these organisations should be acknowledged and actively supported. We will support community-focused policies and investment which will build on the voluntary activities of people and communities – in particular, in rural areas through strengthening the local infrastructure from re-opening Garda stations and post offices, to more developed infrastructures such as transport, telecommunications and housing. As part of this approach, we will place community arts at the heart of cultural policy increasing access to and participation in arts and cultural initiatives. We will reverse the cuts to community development programmes and restore the autonomy of these groups to engage in critical action.
We will validate the importance of unpaid caring in families and communities in a constitutional amendment that removes the gender-biased article 41.2.2 (that assumes that only women are carers) and replaced by a care-recognition article that is gender neutral; a significant investment in caring in the community including supports for carers, and a new child-raising allowance that allows parents to spend more time raising their new-born children.