Health and positive mental health are huge issues for Kildare and its people. It all comes down to resources. Not enough hospital beds, not enough staff, not enough will to tackle the administrative top-heavy system that will only get worse under the Universal Health Insurance Scheme. The risk of UHI is twofold: more administrators in the system, and losing control of our smaller hospitals. UHI will not improve services: it will introduce new charges. We need to stay with a tax-funded system for health, and not introduce another layer of bureaucracy. We need more beds to stop blockages occurring in the system, more nurses, more midwives.

It will be no surprise that the gap between the health budget for 2015 and patients’ needs cannot be closed – the HSE has admitted this. So we will see increasing demands, especially this winter, put on a system already at breaking point, with waiting lists not being reduced.

The old saying goes, Prevention is better than Cure, and the prevention here is increased investment in the GP primary care system, we need to support and boost the work these caregivers in our community do, and prevent hospital admissions. GPs, their staff, their surgeries need to be valued more, they need to be invested in: it is crucial to the future of our health system. We have, compared to the national average, a low rate of GP surgeries per head of the population.( 0.33 compared to 0.41 for the State.) Given the low ratio per head of population in Kildare, we really need more of them.

We also need to prioritise the care of our elders. More home supports, and bring back the numbers of the Fair Deal nursing home support scheme to at least 2013 levels. I’m a strong believer in respecting and cherishing the older members of our community and never forgetting they laid the foundation for everything we enjoy today.