Irish Medical Organisation

Budget 2015. Statement by Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).

• IMO warns that health services are facing further severe pressure next year
• Budget will see a real reduction in spending on health services
• Waiting lists, ward closures and cancelled procedures will continue unaltered.
• No extra resources for public health specialists despite Ebola scare

Tuesday 14th October 2014. The President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned that health services will be under “severe” financial pressure in 2015 following the budget today.

The IMO has challenged the claim by the Government that the budget represented an increase in health spending. Professor Duffy said; “this year’s health budget is €13.2 billion (a budget of €12.7 plus a budget overrun of €500m) and the budget announced today is €13.07 billion – so this represents a cut in the budget for health not an increase.”

Professor Duffy said that it was clear that the Minister for Health was not being supported in his efforts to raise additional funds for the health service; “Clearly the Government has chosen to prioritise other areas over health. After the local elections the Government rushed around promising all sorts of actions on health. Now their attention has switched to water charges and social housing. These are all worthy issues but it is a tragedy that health has lost the attention of the Government at a critical juncture.”

He continued; “There had been some hope that this budget would see a step change in the Government’s approach to funding health but it has not come to pass. Instead we will be forced to continue with insufficient resources doing less with less and it is the patients who will lose out and suffer.”

Professor Duffy said the budget will do nothing to improve the position of patients or to stem the flow of Doctors emigrating from this country; “In a nutshell, it is clear that nobody will notice any improvement in the health services as a result of this budget. The patients certainly won’t and nor will the Doctors and professional staff who work at the coalface. In that regard this budget is a major disappointment at a time when we need imaginative and decisive action.”

In relation to General Practice, Dr. Ray Walley said that the Government has failed to provide the resources needed to underpin their reform plans; “This budget shows no real intention to underpin GP reforms with the necessary resources. There has been a lot of talk about a projected increase in the numbers who can avail of a medical card or a GP visit card but no sign of the resources necessary to make it happen. There is no effort in this budget to address our aging population who have complex medical needs particularly in the area of chronic care.”

In relation to the budget for hospitals, Professor Duffy said that while Minister Howlin acknowledged the hard work done by professionals in our hospitals, he failed to provide those same professionals with the resources necessary to do their jobs for their patients. The bottom line is that ward closures, cancelled procedures and longer waiting list will continue to dominate our health services next year as they have done this year.

Finally Professor Duffy expressed disappointment at the continued under-resourcing of the State’s Public Health Doctors; “Its shocking that given that we are preparing for a potential Ebola outbreak, that there has been no specific funding for this service to deal with the crisis.”

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