Irish Medical Organisation

IMO Conference hears warning that numbers on trolleys could reach over 1,000 this winter

Statement by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO)

Sunday 16th September 2018.  Dr. Fergal Hickey of Sligo Universtiy Hospital has warned that the numbers on trolleys this winter could reach over 1,000 for the first time ever.

Dr. Hickey was speaking at a special conference on Healthcare organised by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).  The conference, which took place in Croke Park on Saturday, was attended by over 100 Doctors and Medical Professionals.  The conference title was Getting Healthcare in Ireland.

The event was told by the IMO President Dr. Peadar Gilligan that when cuts are made, they are felt.  He said; “There is a direct correlation between stripping out of resources and problems in the health service, but the health service is not a black hole nor is it Angola and the depiction of the health service in this way is unhelpful as it suggests a hopeless scenario.  The reality is that a key success of the health services in Ireland is that every day we give hope to people and we deliver on that hope.” 

Social Democrats co-leader Roisín Shortall, who chaired the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, told the conference that it was her hope to see the Sláintecare plan implemented; “It is my goal that Sláintecare is not yet another report left to gather dust. We have the plan, now we just need the political will to do it.”

Experts in immediate, general, psychiatric and, rehabilitative care all presented to attendees, outlining the successes and work that they face.

The conference was told that the rehabilitation sector ranks last in both doctors and beds per capita among European countries and the lack of specialists in this area compared to other countries is compromising the delivery of care in this important speciality.

Dr. Raymond Carson of the Mater Hospital told the conference that the “historically neglected” area is seeing demand increase but that there can be a “seamless pathway to care in the home”.

Dr. Padraig McGarry said that “well-trained GPs are leaving Ireland due to conditions, access to diagnostics and reality of burden on practices.”

During a discussion on access to acute hospital care, Dr. Fergal Hickey of Sligo University Hospital warned that the numbers on trolleys could reach over 1,000 this winter;  “This is a problem with capacity and system failures that are felt in EDs…..much like people in property say it’s ‘location, location, location’, this is capacity, capacity, capacity.”

Dr. Peadar Gilligan – from the floor - said that until we increase the number of beds in line with the capacity review report, we will continue to have a problem with hospital overcrowding, manifesting in our Emergency Departments.

In the final session, the challenges in delivering access to care to at-risk groups were outlined.   GP and founder of Safetynet,  Dr. Austin O’Carroll gave an inspiration presentation in which he spoke of the challenges of providing healthcare to the homeless and most vulnerable in the community.  He pointed out that Ireland’s record providing healthcare to homeless people is “one of the top five in the world”.


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