Irish Medical Organisation

Statement by the Irish Medical Organisation #LivingonTheList

IMO queries why Minister is investing scarce resources in a private treatment fund when public hospitals are starved of cash

“We desperately need a massive injection of finance and resources into our public health services”

Tuesday 7th  February 2017.  The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has criticised the prioritisation of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) as the mechanism to try to reduce hospital waiting lists.  The IMO said the focus on using the NTPF for this purpose would prolong the problem facing patients in public hospitals.  Speaking today, Dr. John Duddy, President of the IMO, said that while prioritising the NTPF would help some individual patients it will prolong the waiting list problems by diverting much needed funding from public hospitals into already profitable private hospitals.

Dr. Duddy was speaking as the fallout about the waiting list crisis continues after the broadcast of the RTE Investigates Programme “Living on the List” last night.

Speaking today Dr. Duddy said that the programme stood as an indictment to successive Governments who have presided over a festering crisis in Irish hospitals; “the programme has brought to life the extent of the crisis facing our hospitals and our broader health services.  The origins of this crisis go back to the misplaced policy decisions to close thousands of hospital beds in the late ‘80s and ’90s even as our population was rising which was then followed by a misjudged cut to health budgets during the economic crash.  For the past decade and more, successive Ministers have tried to disguise that simple fact.  The IMO has warned for many years that these misguided policies would result in chaos and that is what is happening right now.”

Dr. Duddy said that increasing bed capacity in public hospitals must now be a Government priority; “It may not be popular to say this but we desperately need a massive injection of finance and resources into our public health services.  We need to prioritise the provision of an adequate supply of public beds for an aging population and we must demonstrate to Irish qualified doctors that this is a health service worth staying here to work in.  We are a long way from that today. The simple facts are there are too few acute beds for patients, insufficient resources to meet patient demand, too few doctors in our public health system and a general practice service that cannot cope with the increasing workload.  If we continue with current policies waiting lists in real terms will increase and our public services will deteriorate further.  This is a problem for the whole of Government and in particular for the Departments of Health and Public Expenditure and Reform.  The solutions cost money and that money must be found.”

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