Donegal TD, Thomas Pringle, has criticised Minister Simon Harris attending the launch of a new private clinic in Letterkenny.

Speaking on the issue, he said, “It’s a disgrace that our Minister for Health is supporting the unveiling of the first private health clinic in the North West while our public health services remain under- resourced. The attendance of the Minister for Health, Simon Harris at Affidea’s unveiling of a new clinic at Scally Place, Letterkenny this Thursday (July 21st) is being described by Deputy Pringle as “a signal of intent on behalf of Fine Gael to roll out its privatisation agenda of our health service.

“It’s very clear what’s going on here. Minister Harris publicly supporting this new venture is a declaration of Fine Gael’s support for the takeover of our health services by private business. The Government is essentially saying ‘Ireland’s health is for sale and we’re fine with that’."

He continued: “What really concerns me are the possible implications for Affidea’s new €2m venture on the diagnostic operations of Letterkenny as it is now.”

“It’s no coincidence the new private clinic located in the same place as where the outpatient clinics are currently situated since the flooding incident in 2013. This incident was exploited as a way to bring in an alternative private investment. With outpatients already there, it will be a steady source of business with public money facilitating this private transaction while Letterkenny University Hospital's diagnostic services lie under utilised.

“Approximately 50% of the patients using Affidea’s scanning services are covered by private health insurance while a further 50% are public patients who pay an additional fee to skip lengthy waiting lists. Ultimately, people will be paying a hefty price to get a service that should have been made available through the public system. These ventures will become commonplace as more and more health services in the future are privatised. That is, if Fine Gael have their way."

He concluded: “Furthermore, to facilitate Affidea’s nationwide rollout, the company is investing €15million in the Irish healthcare sector. Will this give Affidea access to input on public health policy? The invitation to the launch was extended to me, but I flatly refuse to support such an initiative and believe the Minister has many questions to answer before attending as a Guest of Honour."

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