Irish Medical Organisation

IMO responds to Government’s Winter Initiative

“Extra 55 acute beds will not make any difference in the long term” 

Friday 9th September 2016. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has today said that the proposed Winter Initiative plan will not make any difference in the long term and that it is just a drop in the ocean compared to the substantial additional investment in healthcare that is required in Ireland. Dr. Peadar Gilligan Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Beaumont Hospital and Chairman of the IMO Consultant Committee said that any extra resources for the health services are welcome but the addition of 55 acute beds into the public hospital system which has seen 1,600 beds cut is no way near addressing the additional capacity needed in acute hospitals required to deliver care to our population.

Dr. Gilligan said; “Clearly every additional resource for the public hospital system is positive but this whole Winter Initiative idea is more about PR than reality. “Unfortunately 55 extra beds is just a start.”

Dr. Gilligan also said that focus on Winter Initiatives was misleading; “we have a year round bed crisis in our public hospitals not a Winter crisis and any solution which doesn’t focus substantially on increasing the number of staffed beds is not a serious response to the problem.”

Dr. Gilligan also criticized the use of public funds to pay for treatments in private hospitals (under the National Treatment Purchase Fund/NTPF). He said the use of the NTPF diverts scarce resources from the public system to private hospitals. It is counter productive and facilitates the private sector delivering care that should be delivered in public hospitals.

Dr. Gilligan also warned that demand for hospital space this year will rise in part because of the decision a year ago to cancel elective surgeries; “very often what might have been elective a year ago becomes critical now. We warned last year that cancelling elective procedures would have consequences and those consequences will include increased demand in the coming months from patients who were not treated last year.”

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