Irish Medical Organisation

IMO Pre Budget Submission 2014

The IMO is calling on the Government to invest in health and healthcare

In this year’s pre budget submission IMO doctors wish to highlight the negative effects of the economic downturn as well as the opportunities the recession can create to improve health and health care.

Within its Pre Budget Submission 2014 the IMO focus on the following:

  • Health System Reform and Investment
  • Inequalities and Access to Health Care
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Minimum Alcohol Pricing.

Dr Matthew Sadlier – President of the IMO said that “The goal is to move to a system of Universal Health Insurance, however, before embarking on reform of the funding model, the Government must focus on the allocation of current resources. Since 2009 Government expenditure on health has fallen by 10% or €1.5bn and there are 11,000 less people employed in our health services. While efficiencies have been made there are signs that the health system in under financial strain. The IMO is calling for Investment in our health services if the Government is to achieve its Programme of Reform.”

Dr Sadlier stressed that “Capital funding must be provided to support the reconfiguration of hospital services and under Money Follow the Patient the Government must ensure that adequate financial and human resources are provided to address growing waiting lists for elective care and outpatient services”.

Traditionally GPs have provided a range of pro bono services to patients however given the cuts in resources in General Practice (amounting to over €150 million) there has been increasing financial pressure on GPs and the viability of general practices and many are encountering difficulty in the provision of such services.

Dr Sadlier said “Despite the known advantages of Primary Care no new funding has been provided to support the Government’s Programme of reform for Primary Care and in fact any funding provision made has been withdrawn and diverted back to address shortfalls elsewhere in the system.”

The IMO recommends that in order to ensure that patients are treated in the appropriate setting money must follow the patient in Primary Care. Dr Sadlier said “Chronic disease management and prevention must be adequately costed and resources must be forthcoming and the Government must ensure adequate investment in facilities and resources to support Primary Care Teams.”

The IMO is calling urgently for the development of a detailed implementation plan for Healthy Ireland with appropriate multi-annual ring-fenced funding to support actions and initiatives and that all policies including budget measures should be subject to health impact assessment.

High out-of-pocket payments can create inequalities in access to healthcare. An estimated 23% of the population or 1.055 million people have neither a medical card nor PHI[i] and are required to pay substantial out-of-pocket payments for their healthcare

“The IMO recommends there should be no further increase in out-of-pocket payments for all patients and the IMO Government must identify and prioritise funding for universal access to Primary Care in agreement with the relevant stakeholders.” said Dr Sadlier.

The IMO Budget Submission also highlights the link between recession and suicide and calls on the Government to ensure adequate resources are available for suicide prevention programmes.

Because of the link between suicide and recession there is a need ensure adequate resources for suicide prevention during this time. The IMO recognises that there are a range of population measures and targeted interventions that can impact positively on mental health and help-seeking among young people. For example means restriction is important and there is also some evidence to suggest that media treatment of suicide can affect suicide rates.

A range of measures are needed in order to change Ireland’s relationship with alcohol and to reduce the burden of problem alcohol use on future generations. The IMO is calling for the introduction of a minimum pricing structure for the sale of alcohol in Ireland as well as a total ban on all advertising and promotion.

Despite an increase in excise duties last year, alcohol remains cheap to purchase relative to the societal costs of problem alcohol use. The IMO is calling on the Department of Health to continue work with counterparts in Northern Ireland and Scotland to introduce of a minimum price structure for alcohol, based on grams of alcohol.

- Ends

[1] CSO, Health Status and Health Service Utilisation, Quarterly National Household Survey, Quarter 3 2010

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