In the limited time at my disposal it is practically impossible to cover all aspects of the motion in the name of Deputy Haughey but, while being effective, I shall be as brief as possible. Yesterday we heard a lot about guidelines and we are limited to guidelines on this issue now. We are moving into wider areas that involve the entire health services. Most of the speakers yesterday should have been more enlightened. The more I think of the motion we are discussing the more baffled I am about what the whole thing means.
Members whom we might have thought were aware of the present day situation, particularly in such a vital area as health services, showed they were totally uninformed about what was being discussed. I do not know if this was deliberate ignorance of the situation. These are the people who are supposed to tell their constituents the situation with regard to medical cards and the health services generally. The lack of knowledge displayed yesterday by Fine Gael speakers in particular baffled me. It is a matter for the Minister to bring the issue into the open and to have a full and frank discussion on the health services. I can easily understand the predicament of ordinary people with regard to the health services when Deputies display such ignorance of these matters.
I intend to substantiate my statements with regard to Deputy Haughey's motion by proof and figures and, most important, from experience. I wish to be as informative and constructive as I can and I hope those who should know more will take even half a leaf from a book of 25 or 26 years' experience with regard to public health matters.
I wish to correct some statements by Deputy Moore with regard to hospitalisation and home treatment. There are cases where home treatment should be used—for example, for geriatrics and for people suffering from mental illnesses. Home care is an asset that should be used as much as possible but it is not up to any lay person to decide that a patient should not remain in hospital but should be sent home. The only person entitled to make that decision is the medical person involved.
I was surprised at the statement made by Deputy Moore that we have too many beds. The position is the reverse. For the last 20 years in my area we have sought extensions for the regional, voluntary and maternity hospitals. We have met the present Minister and his predecessors with regard to our request for extensions. If that is the experience of Deputy Moore in Dublin, I wish it applied to the rest of the country also. We must get our priorities right where the health services are involved. In many of our hospitals—perhaps not so much in the voluntary as in the regional—we have to accommodate people in corridors. The simple reason is we have not got enough accommodation in the public wards, in the semi-private or private wards.
With regard to hospitalisation generally, there should not be worry or distress on any breadwinner or anyone else because he has to be hospitalised. The financial problems of people occupying public wards are taken over by the health boards. I am sorry that Deputy Moore harped on the financial problems at home. They are not the fault of the health boards. They may be due to domestic matters, the weekly income and other things. They are not due to hospital charges if patients are in public wards which are free for everybody. However, some people will not go into public wards—they opt for private and semi-private wards. Then when the bill is presented to them they come to us and when we make inquiries we discover they opted for semi-private wards.
With regard to the dental services, numerous statements have been made. Here again we must get our priorities right. I have never heard of anyone dying from toothache. I have made suggestions over the years and I do not know whether the Minister will find it possible to implement them. His predecessors failed to do so. There are prostheticians, the dental mechanics. In Europe, particularly in Switzerland, they serve an apprenticeship of three years. They can handle dentures and fittings of all kinds. Here we do not train them in that way and if we did it would help to solve many problems.
Deputies Haughey and Moore spoke about a charge of £3 per week. I checked on this by telephone with my health board in Limerick this morning and the sum is between £3 and £5 a week and if it is anything more than that, half of the figure is returned in full. Apparently it all depends on the approach of the different CEOs. We have rectified our problem in Limerick because we insist that members of the staff, particularly the junior members, male and female, attend health board meetings in rota. In that way they learn of the human aspect of the work of the board and the human problems that have to be dealt with. Then we have the co-operation of the staff who know from attending our meetings that there is not a straight line down the centre.
I am sorry I have not enough time to go into more detail. I hope the Minister will take our views into consideration. All of us have been speaking from experience of health service administration.