IMO responds to Minister Harris
Inability to recruit Consultants to work in Irish public hospitals is a key failure of the Health Services
Criticises Minister’s failure to discuss need for increased investment
Future Health Committee must focus on the level of funding and funding model for our health services
Wednesday 22nd March 2017. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has criticised comments by the Minister for Health today on private work being done by Hospital Consultants (comments made during Minister’s appearance at an Oireachtas Committee).
Speaking today Dr. Peadar Gilligan, Chairman of the Consultants Committee of the IMO said that the Minister was merely distracting attention from the acute shortage of Consultants and inadequate investment in the Irish public hospital system; “the fact that we cannot fill 400 vacancies in Consultant positions in our hospitals speaks volumes for the failings of the Irish health services. It should be acknowledged that almost half of consultants working in our hospitals do not undertake private practice. The suggestion that those consultants who do engage in some limited private practice, the level of which is determined by contract provisions, are to blame for the failings of our public hospital services is misleading. The simple fact is that there has been for many years insufficient funding, too few beds and the inability to implement a consultant delivered service given the chronic shortfall in consultant manpower”.
Dr. Gilligan also expressed surprise that the Minister had not touched in his remarks on the issue of resources; “the Minister spoke of many issues in his remarks but not on the issue of resources. We firmly believe that the resources issue is the key issue behind all the challenges facing the health services. We have had years of cutbacks and austerity and we have seen critically needed bed numbers slashed and consultant numbers reduced even as the population and demand for services has increased. To talk about fixing the health services without increasing the spend on health services is just fantasy talk and we urge the Future Health Committee to consider the costs of health service provision and the funding model required to deliver an equitable health service .”
Dr. Gilligan did acknowledge that the Minister had addressed some issues on which the IMO was in agreement; the need to move services to a GP Led community setting and the requirement for a new GP contract, increasing the participation of clinicians in management roles, reforming of structures to ensure that hospital and community services are alligned and so on; “some of these issues were identified by the IMO and other parties but we will not make any progress on any of them without increasing investment. To focus on reform within the management of our services will not alleviate the problems and we must take a holistic approach and deal with the manpower and service issues as a priority”