Irish Medical Organisation

IMO Statement - Shameful that our public hospitals are cancelling surgery to cope with ED Overcrowding

Crisis management approach by HSE and Task Force Group not working

Friday 22nd January 2016.  The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has strongly criticised comments by the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, on the overcrowding in emergency departments.  Earlier today the Minister said the shutdown of elective and routine operations was evidence that the escalation framework for dealing with the emergency department crisis was working.

Dr Ray Walley, IMO President said "cancelling elective surgeries does not solve the overcrowding problem and the HSE and Government are failing to take effective measures.  It is a shameful situation. The root of the problem lies in the lack of capacity in the system as a whole and until that is addressed the problem will reoccur with cancellation of elective surgery becoming routine.  What we will now see is these patients coming back to their GPs who already are at capacity or in more urgent situations presenting through the ED."

The problem of ED overcrowding has been with us for a considerable length of time and yet no positive long term steps have been taken to address the issue.  While capacity cannot be addressed overnight there is no long term plan to actually deal with it and what we currently call a crisis is effectively the norm.

The IMO fully supports a system wide approach to the capacity issue within our health services which is manifesting itself through overcrowding in our Emergency Departments.

Government and the HSE must develop plans and commit funding to:

1.      Reinstatement of the 1,600 beds taken out of the acute hospital system

2.      Investment in General Practice so that it is resourced to treat patients with chronic diseases

3.      Introducing new beds for nursing homes and rehabilitative settings with suitable home care supports

4.      Real measures to retain doctors and incentivise Irish trained doctors now working abroad to return home.

Dr Walley said "Ireland is now at the start of a curve of a rapidly increasing ageing population and our health services are simply unable to cope.  The ED crisis is a result of conscious choices taken by Ministers and health administrators and its solution will come about when different choices are made.  In the coming election every political party must be challenged as to whether they believe that recurring crises like these are acceptable to us as a society.  It is simply not good enough to make vague political promises, what health needs is a Vision, a Plan and Investment"

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