Irish Medical Organisation

New Year Statement by Irish Medical Organisation to mark beginning of an election year

Organisation vows to ensure that health is at the forefront of the forthcoming General Election campaign

President warns that the new Government will inherit "a crisis of enormous proportions in the health services"

New Year's Eve - Thursday 31st December 2015. The President of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Ray Walley has warned that the organisation will "undertake a vigorous campaign" to ensure that the crisis in the health services is one of the key issues debated in the forthcoming General Election. Dr Walley was speaking in a special New Year statement by the IMO to mark the begining of an election year.

Dr Walley said that 2015 would be regarded as a year of acute crisis across the health services; "as this Government comes to an end, we reflect on a health service that is on its knees.. where patients are suffering unacceptably... where crisis management is the order of the day and where the morale of the professionals on whom the service depends is at an all time low. Years of austerity have caused many problems across the country but no section has suffered as much for as long as the health services and the patients who depend on it. The new Government will inherit a crisis of enormous proportions in this sector and must prioritise an urgent injection of resources if the system is not to collapse entirely"

Dr Walley identified four critical areas where the new Government must move urgently;

- A four year investment programme across the health services

- A programme of sustained investment in bed capacity in hospital and in nursing homes and rehabilitative settings

- Increased resources to deliver a modern General Practice service to those most in need with a focus on the delivery of chronic care

- A credible solution to tackle the ongoing retention and recruitment of doctors and to encourage those doctros working in our public services to stay

Dr Walley said that the current crisis had been foreseen by the IMO and other professional bodies as the inevitable consequence of years of austerity. He said; "everything that we warned about has come to pass. Of all sectors in the economy, the health services need careful planning over years and decades and that has been woefully lacking as successive Ministers have focussed on day to day crisis management rather than long term strategic planning. The promotion of different pay for people doing the same job, overcrowding in our Emergency Departments, uncontrollable waiting lists for outpatients, the piling on of un-resourced extra demands on General Practice and the widespread culling of hospital beds have all contributed to the current crisis. Tackling the legacy will cost more than maintaining services ever would have done."

Dr Walley was particularly critical of the wasted distraction that was Universal Health Insurance, "the debate about UHI simply distracted from the growing crisis in the health services and the need for urgent action"

Dr Walley said that in addition to the financial challenges in the sector, there was an urgent need to change the terms of the debate on health services "we must stop allowing people to see the health servies as a drain on the nation's resources. Investing in health services is an investment in our economy, our community and our society and is as critical to the recovery of this country as its people as any other investment in any sector. Ireland needs and deserves a vision for health that is resourced, not just more empty promises."

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