IMO Budget Submission Press Release
IMO Budget Submission Press Release
Pre-budget submission on healthcare
IMO highlights seven deadly failings of Irish health policy and five virtuous steps necessary to stop the crisis
IMO commits to making health policy a key issue in General Election
Wednesday 23rd September 2015. Dr. Ray Walley, the President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has launched a scathing attack on this Government’s record on health and warned that a supplementary budget will be required for the Department of Health again this year. Dr. Walley was speaking at the launch of the IMO’s pre-budget submission on healthcare which took place today in Dublin.
Dr. Walley set out what he described as “the seven deadly failings of Irish health policy”.
- Hospitals are now operating in “the death zone” where occupancy levels are over the point (92.5%) at which mortality rates rise. Despite the intense efforts of front line professionals once occupancy levels reach this level, deaths occur that would not otherwise occur.
- The number of acute hospital beds is down 13% (1,631) since 2007. The equivalent of 4 acute hospital beds a week have been taken out of Irish hospitals even as demand for such beds soars.
- GP services are in crisis. Excluding the under-6 contract, GPs are now treating 500,000 additional medical card patientswith funding cut by €160 million.
- Mental health spending (at 6% of HSE budget) is behind the Vision for Change target of 8.5%.
- Ireland continues the policy lunacy of adding taxes and charges to medicines that make people better while refusing to hit unhealthy drinks and foods with additional taxes.
- Successive policy own-goals have created a service people which health professionals are queuing up to emigrate from. Staffing levels in the HSE are down 12.9% - equivalent to 14,418 full time staff and 20% of all emigrants from Ireland are leaving from the Health and Social services. 88% of medical students in Ireland are contemplating emigration after graduation.
- The country is facing national crises in relation to obesity and alcohol.
The IMO pre-budget submission is calling for a five year health plan and some immediate steps to stop the crisis in the health services and lay the foundation for future recovery. Dr. Walley set out what he describes as “five virtuous steps to stop the crisis in health services.”
- Put more beds in public hospitals, rehabilitation centres and nursing homes: Since 2007, 1631 acute beds have been taken out of Irish hospitals even while demand for acute beds is rising as the population grows.
- Manage chronic disease through a properly resourced General Practice service rather than the currently hospital based approach
- Reverse prescription charges for medical card holders. Current policy places special taxes on medicines that help patients get better but there are no special taxes on food and drink products that make people sick in the first place.
- Spend more on mental health and addiction treatment. Mental health is as important as physical health but we are currently under spending on mental health.
- Stop the brain drain of highly qualified doctors leaving Ireland for better conditions overseas
Putting Health Centre-Stage in the Coming General Election
Dr. Walley said that with just months to go before a General Election, the IMO would be campaigning strongly to ensure that health featured as a key election issue for all participants; “While we will campaign strongly for an increased allocation of resources to the health services in the coming budget, the reality is that the key battleground for health policy is the general election and the IMO will be fighting to ensure that each election candidate and political grouping is challenged to articulate and justify their respective health policies.”
Dr. Walley said; “the health service budget is down by about €4 billion since 2009 and every part of the health services is now in trouble. Frontline staff have shouldered incredible pressures to keep the show on the road but they simply can’t do anymore. This is crisis management and we need the Minister to be very clear about what his priorities are and how he is allocating resources to tackle them. We are literally one bad week away from chaos in our hospitals and queues at our GP surgeries. We don’t need unrealistic talk about changing the model of healthcare or adding more pressures on overstretched resources. We need realistic talk about how to deal with the chaos that our health services have become.”