IMO responds to Health Service Plan for 2015
Warns that the plan leaves “NO margin for additional demand”.
Thursday 27th November 2014. The Irish Medical Organisation has warned of a “very difficult year” for the Health Services in 2015 following the publication today of the HSE National Service Plan.
Speaking today, Professor Trevor Duffy, President of the IMO, while welcoming the end to a cycle of brutal cuts to the budget warned that the plan had “literally NO margin for additional demand” and that it would – at best – “maintain current overstretched services at current unacceptable levels.”
Professor Duffy said that the IMO was particularly concerned that as a result of a policy change, any overrun in the budget next year would come out of the budget for 2016 “the budget this year overran by over €500 million and, unfortunately, that kind of overrun is likely to occur next year again when we have insufficient funding for a service that must respond to patient needs as they present. However as a result of a policy change we are at risk of creating a spiralling funding crisis in the health services by burdening future years with the shortcomings of the current budget. That could have major implications not just on next year’s budget but on the budget of many years to come.”
Professor Duffy also warned that the plan would do nothing to give any security or comfort to patients already faced with long delays to see a doctor or to have a procedure done. Until funding is restored to reasonable levels we cannot hope to improve the service in any significant way. While acknowledging some special funding has been announced for some services like Breast Screening, Mental Health and GP Diagnostic Tools Professor Duffy said “The imperative is now on the HSE to address the gapping need for structural reform in a transparent and accountable fashion to avoid the mistakes of the past.” Until then the current level of funding will not make any real impact given the increasing demand and the growing number of particularly elderly patients who rely upon the public health service. Nor will it encourage any medical professionals who were considering emigration to rethink their plans. For now our overworked health care professionals will be asked to continue to work unreasonable hours, under intolerable pressure in a thankless environment. That will only encourage more young healthcare professionals to consider emigration and that will, in turn, lead to greater reliance on agency staff. “It’s a vicious cycle which only brave decisions and realistic funding will address.”