Greater access to healthcare in rural areas
I am fortunate to have grown up in and still live in the strong rural community of Inagh and so I recognise the need to protect this precious social fabric. If elected, I am willing to work tirelessly for you, the people of Clare, to ensure our rural communities are allocated a fair share of resources so they can continue to thrive in the future.
Politics begins with improving the quality of life for people and in fostering close-knit, vibrant communities. However, in small towns, villages and more remote areas, people often do not have accessible amenities and services that those in cities and large towns take for granted. The most important of these services is undoubtedly access to healthcare.
The Green Party believes that every person has the right to basic healthcare within his or her community. Their health policy is to support Sláintecare by moving the provision of healthcare out of acute hospitals and into primary care centres and general practices. Nowhere is this more essential in rural Ireland than in counties such as Clare, where A&E services are limited and rural GPs are on the decline.
As a rural candidate, I believe that our communities deserve a greater say in their healthcare systems and I support the Green Party’s policy on replacing the HSE model with Community Healthcare Organisations (CMOs). These centres will focus on providing primary care by treating minor ailments locally thus reducing A&E queues in Limerick hospital. As we know, visits to the bigger, overcrowded city hospital can be stressful and alienating, especially for older members of our community. Apart from providing physical healthcare, local health centres provide vital human contact for isolated rural dwellers.
Support in mental health services is essential and the Green Party propose to increase funding to these services specifically in rural communities as well as the creation of Community Mental Health Teams which would include mental health nurses as well as access to counselling and social care services. To ensure that everyone can remain in touch with healthcare providers they will support access to telephone and Internet services.
I recognise that living in rural settings can be particularly challenging for some groups. In future budgets and transport policies, the Green Party will create specific services for people with disabilities who live in rural settings as well as ensure adequate provision of respite care places and staff flexibly for families and carers dealing with a disability.
And finally, as many of our common day diseases stem from our lifestyle, I hope to encourage people to actively protect their health. The party’s policies and proposed spending on transport compliment this preventative approach: the provision of proper greenways, cycle- and footpaths will allow people in rural Ireland to chose a healthier lifestyle which will positively impact on their physical and mental health. Having visited greenways in Waterford and Mayo, I can attest to this, people I’ve met admitted that they have become healthier and happier as a result of the greenways being developed in their areas.
Image: Clare FM