IMO responds to Taoiseach comments on Sláintecare
18th July 2018. In his briefing at the end of today’s Cabinet meeting in Co. Kerry, the Taoiseach announced that the Minister for Health will shortly publish an implementation plan for Sláintecare which will cover 100 action points over the next 3 years.
While we welcome the fact that some action points have finally been identified, it is already very clear that Sláintecare is NOT going to transform our health services or radically address the crisis facing patients and healthcare professionals every day.
It was particularly noticeable that when speaking about Sláintecare, the Taoiseach moved immediately to warn about the lack of available resources to increase spending on health. In a very real way then, he and the Government are preparing the public to expect little improvement in the health services for the coming years.
It must also be stated that it is very demoralizing for those professionals in the health services who are working night and day to help their patients to have to listen to the Taoiseach and others constantly talk about how much is being spent on health – ignoring the fact that public health services are demand driven.
In warning about the lack of additional resources, the Taoiseach is making it clear to people that for the coming months, there will continue to be:
• Increased waiting lists
• Overcrowding in Emergency Department which means that hospitals will have to continue to operate in the “death-zone” where occupancy levels are so high that patients die as a result of overcrowding.
• Patients unable to register with a GP due to the capacity issues in General Practice. The GP system is chronically underfunded and urgently requires a roadmap for the reversal of FEMPI cuts made during the recession.
• Over 450 unfilled Consultant posts
• And continued wholesale emigration of doctors to countries that provide better terms and conditions and a healthier working environment.
The IMO is committed to reform but the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health must understand that Sláintecare will achieve nothing without additional resources to support its implementation. If the Taoiseach is signalling today that no such resources will be forthcoming, then we have to be realistic about what will and will not be achieved through implementing elements of Sláintecare.