"Across the board our health system, but particularly our mental health services in Kilkenny, should be run by the communities, by the patients and by the front-line staff"
With the ongoing discussion over circumstances at Department of Psychiatry at St Luke's Hospital, a local election candidate is calling for a root and branch reform of how the health service is run.
Stephanie Hanlon, the People Before Profit candidate contesting the May 24 local elections in Kilkenny City, has severe and uncontrolled epilepsy. As someone with a disability, she says that not only are more people with disabilities needed in politics, her experience has given her a unique perspective into how the healthcare system is run.
"I have had to rely on the healthcare system most of my life and I see the same problems emerging," she said.
"Yes, we need increased funding for our services but we also need to look at how they are run. I am calling for a root and branch reform of our health care system. Across the board our health system, but particularly our mental health services in Kilkenny, should be run by the communities, by the patients and by the front-line staff and not the middle management of the HSE who are on inflated wages."
Ms Hanlon said that things need to change, and it should come from the bottom up: "Big problems start to emerge when a select few suits start to make decisions behind closed doors," she said.
"There is no accountability and too much bureaucracy. I am fighting this election to see more grassroots democracy and I want to revitalise our health care system. Patients and staff are being left behind, the community is being failed. Things need to change, and this should come from the bottom up."
Her party colleague, who is a European election candidate for Ireland South, Adrienne Wallace, added that there is a deliberate attempt to run down the public health service "to try and sell us the notion that privatised care is better".
"Many are already being forced to go private because waiting lists are too long," said Ms Wallace.
"Between the lack of 24/7 cardiac care for the Southeast and the collapse of CAMHS, it is more than evident that we need to move away from this Neo-liberal model of care, we need health equality. People Before Profit want to see an NHS-type system here."