Irish Medical Organisation

IMO responds to Budget 2016

IMO responds to Budget 2016

  • Minister’s claim to have secured increased health budget rings hollow given that his officials are currently preparing a supplementary budget for the year not yet gone

  • Budget measures will do nothing to help patients get adequate, safe care more quickly and doctors will continue to emigrate from what is now a “failing health service”

  • Warning that GP Cards for Under-12s “simply not realistic”

Tuesday 13 October 2015.  The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has dismissed claims of an €900 million increase in spending on the health services next  year.  Dr. Ray Walley, President of the IMO, said that the vast bulk of this spending was required as a supplementary budget to shore up spending for the current year; “unfortunately the idea of a significant increase in the health budget is a nonsense and the proposed spending will hardly be sufficient to maintain services at current levels not to mind increase them to provide patients with the type of services they need and deserve."

Dr. Walley said; “Spending on health services over the last number of years has demonstrably been well in excess of the proposed figure of €13.175 billion for the coming year, once supplementary budgets have been taken into account, and reports of a €600 million budget overrun in health this year suggest that 2015 will be no different. Accordingly, adherence to the health budget announced today would require a reduction in the level of services being provided.”

According to figures from the World Bank, the Irish government spends less on healthcare than any other government in western European, devoting only 6.0% of GDP to the health services. Regrettably this budget does little to improve this situation.

On the issue of extending Free GP Care to Children under 12, Dr. Ray Walley said that there are no negotiations on this issue with the IMO and the proposal smacks of electioneering rather than sincere proposals.  The IMO reiterates that as per its agreement with the Government, it is in negotiations on a new GP Contract and there can be no question of an extension of the Free GP scheme until current services are resourced appropriately.

Dr. Walley also criticised the failure to use the budget to increase taxes on unhealthy drinks and alcohol which could have raised much needed funds to be used on improving health services.

Dr. Walley said “the real losers from this budget are patients dependant on the health services across the country.  It is a missed opportunity to invest in integrated care from General Practice to Secondary Care to Mental Health Services, and services for the elderly.”   He said; ”the reality is that this Government has never prioritised the health services and has presided over a period of growing inequality and collapsing morale amongst doctors working here and patients have paid the price”.

Dr. Walley also said that the budget would do nothing to stop the emigration of hundreds of badly needed Irish doctors who are voting with their feet after years of austerity in the health services here; “the Government talks about attracting new doctors but under current policies, they can’t even hold on to the ones already working here.  This budget will do nothing to tackle this crisis.  Minister Howlin talked today about managing pay levels in a responsible way but is it responsible to manage pay levels in a way which forces doctors to emigrate and leaves our own health services under-resourced and under-staffed.”

Finally, Dr. Walley said that the health budget was obviously designed with a mind to the forthcoming election rather than having the courage to address and solve the very real problems in our health services.

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