An all-island Healthcare policy for Women – Adams

Louth TD Gerry Adams has described Sinn Féin’s all-Ireland women’s healthcare policy document – ‘A Vision for Women’s Healthcare’ – as “a vital step forward for women’s health on the island of Ireland.”
Gerry Adams TD said:

“Fundamental inequalities confront women every day in the delivery of health services in both states on this island. Historically women have suffered many injustices and especially in the provision of health care. This year alone we have witnessed the scandal of cervical check and there is the current controversy surrounding the use of the vaginal mesh implant.

In the past women suffered from the use of symphysiotomy and of thalidomide. Symphysiotomy was essentially institutional abuse, involving acts of butchery against women citizens. Women have been the victims of bad government policy and social and economic discrimination, from the Magdalene laundries to the mother and baby homes.

According to Women’s Aid one-in-five women will be victim of male violence. For women, violence also includes, but is not limited to, domestic violence, forced marriage, rape and sexual assault, crimes in the name of honour, murder, trafficking and sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment and stalking. It causes physical damage ranging from death to miscarriages to broken limbs. Sexual offences can also result in sexually transmitted diseases and forced pregnancies, as well as leaving long-term psychological damage.

Mental health problems affect women and men equally but some are more common among women. Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders are found to affect women in higher numbers. The National Women’s Council of Ireland stated: ‘In examining women’s mental health we need to reflect that women are more likely to be poor, to parent alone, to be the main provider of unpaid care work, to be in precarious employment, to earn low wages and to be at risk of domestic or sexual violence.’

Sinn Féin believes that the voices of women must be heard when it comes to healthcare.  In this comprehensive policy document, which makes almost 140 separate recommendations we are proposing a range of measures including:

  • · the creation of a single tier health system where healthcare is provided free on the basis of need and not the ability to pay;
    · a healthcare system that is sensitive to and reflects gender differences;
    · healthcare standards that are consistent, evidence based and applicable to all providers; free proscription drugs;
    · VAT on sanitary products to be removed;
    · the provision of free mammograms for women in risk categories for breast cancer;
    · education and awareness programmes for breast, cervical and ovarian cancer;
    · the provision of contraceptives and emergency contraception free of charge;
    · the provision of a termination in line with the recommendations of the Oireachtas 8th Amendment Committee and the draft legislation on termination of pregnancy which was published in advance of the 8th Amendment Referendum;
    · the adoption of a health strategy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people;
    · the establishment of peri-natal mental health units working together, located north and south.

Sinn Féin does not claim to have identified all the issues in the delivery of health services for women across Ireland. Nor do we claim to have advocated all the solutions. However, our policy document outlines Sinn Féin’s vision for women’s health care in Ireland, a vision that is based on the principles of fairness and equality which we can all work towards together.”  

For further details on the document please visit


Adams concern at variation in immunisation and mortality rates affecting OLOL

Gerry Adams SmilingLouth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his “serious concern at the findings of the Second Annual Report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System which reveals some disturbing information about immunisation levels in Louth and mortality and surgery rates in Our Lady of Lourdes”.

Teachta Adams said: “There is an onus on the HSE and the Minister for Health to investigate the variations in immunisation, mortality and surgery rates between hospitals. I am especially worried by some of the figures relating to Louth and Our Lady of Lourdes.

The Minister and the Health Service Executive have a responsibility to ensure patient safety.”

Teachta Adams said:

“The second annual report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRS) is intended to measure health service performance and outcomes of care within the health service. It is also intended to identify problems, facilitate improvements and help health providers take decisions to improve the system.

Some of its conclusions are encouraging, for example the fact that survival rates for patients with breast and colorectal cancer within the health service are improving.

However, the report also reveals that Louth is among the worst counties in the state for immunisation rates for the Mumps, Rubella and Rubella diseases. The target for immunisation across the state is 95%. The current rate stands at 93% but Louth lags behind on between 89-90%.

Meningococcal bacteria can result in meningitis, septicaemia or both. It can lead to death or serious disability. According to the NHQRS report the state target is 95% of children immunised. The uptake rates for children at 24 months across the state for 2014-15 is 88%. But Louth lags behind here also with between 80-81% of children immunized at 24 months.

  • In-hospital mortality at Our Lady of Lourdes in some treatments is also a cause of concern. According to the NHQRS a heart attack is one of the leading causes of death. The trend has seen an overall reduction within 30 days of admission from a high of 9.3 deaths per 100 in 2006 to 6.0 deaths per 100 cases in 2015. In OLOL the rate is slightly higher at 6.22 deaths per 100 cases.
  • In-hospital mortality from a haemorrhagic stroke within 30 days of admission is also a cause of worry. Speedy diagnosis and treatment can improve survival and limit the risk of disability. In 2013 the average in-hospital mortality rate within 30 days of admission with haemorrhagic stroke was 24.6 per 100 cases. This is higher than the OECD (Organisation for Economic and Co-operation Development) average of 22.6 deaths per 100 cases.

In Our Lady of Lourdes the in-hospital mortality rate is higher again at 26.64 per 100 cases.

  • In 2013 the in-hospital mortality rate within 30 days of admission at Our Lady of Lourdes for patients admitted to the hospital with an ischaemic stroke was, at 9.21 deaths per 100 cases, higher than the OECD average of 8.4 deaths per 100 cases.

Finally, the in-hospital waiting time for patients waiting for hip fracture surgery was also analysed by the NHQRS. It found that the average proportion of patients undergoing surgery within 2 days of admission was 82.3% across the state. For Our Lady of Lourdes the figure was less at 76.6% of patients.

And when it came to caesarean sections Our Lady of Lourdes with 33.3% per 100 patients had the fourth highest rate of caesarean sections in the state.

The NHQRS report is a detailed comprehensive report which contains a significant body of information that requires careful examination and analysis.

The public needs to have confidence in our public health service, in the care they receive and in our acute hospitals.

This report raises questions about whether patient safety and quality of care are compromised in some locations, or across some specialties.

It is the responsibility of the Minister for Health and the HSE, as well as the hospital and hospital group, to address these matters.

I have written to the Minister asking him what actions he intends to take following the findings of the Report.”