IMO President calls for investment of historic proportions in health services
Statement by Irish Medical Organisation
- Keynote speech by IMO President on weekend organisation’s AGM was scheduled to take place (cancelled re Covid-19)
- Calls for investment of “historic proportions” in health services both in relation to physical infrastructure and medical manpower.
- Warns that Covid-19 crisis has exposed fragility of Irish health services – particularly shortage of beds and shortage of doctors
- Commends the heroic efforts of doctors and all healthcare staff in caring for patients in these very difficult times
- Appeals to public to strictly follow the Public Health advice – this is not the time to relax our efforts
The Covid-19 crisis must lead to an investment programme in the country’s health services of “historic proportions”, according to the President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO). Dr. Padraig McGarry was speaking to mark the fact that the IMO’s AGM was scheduled to take place this weekend in Killarney but was postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Dr. McGarry said that the IMO was very conscious that at the time when IMO doctors would have been debating health service issues, the fragility of those services is being exposed as never before due to the crisis. Dr McGarry said we must never again allow our health services to be so underfunded and understaffed.
“We have over 1,100 newly qualified doctors coming into our health services in the next few weeks. We welcome our new colleagues and assure them of the support of all experienced doctors to help them through what will be a particularly challenging start to their careers in medicine. These young people are the future and will be amongst the leaders of the profession in the years ahead. We owe it to them to provide them with every support and assistance we can. We know just how vital their role will be in the years ahead. Let us make sure we equip them to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.”
Dr. McGarry said: “The simple fact is we have far too few doctors right across our public health services; in our hospitals, in General Practice and in our public health structures. It is not enough to thank people for their efforts, Government must actually support a proactive recruitment programme and financially support a fast track programme for additional beds and services. The women and men of our health system have risen to the challenges that Covid-19 has presented. We continue to work to care for our patients but we need to see ongoing support from the Government.”
Dr. McGarry said that it was a source of great pride to the profession to see the generous, courageous response of health care professionals to the Covid-19 crisis; “Everybody in the country has responded magnificently to the challenge posed by Covid-19 but the bravery, dedication and courageous selflessness of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals has been inspiring. While there are undoubted challenges in terms of PPE it is not, and can never be acceptable, to ask these very people to work in an unsafe environment. We must protect and keep our doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals and all support staff safe so they can continue to provide much needed care to patients.”
Dr McGarry commended the efforts of the public in following public health advice but warned that there is no room for complacency; “We are not yet where we need to be, so we must redouble our efforts in terms of social distancing. It is also critically important that people do not neglect their health, either physical or mental, at this time. Your GP and health services remain on call for you. People must not ignore other health issues, particularly those who suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes or heart failure. These conditions may worsen if ignored or untreated so please contact your GP. Emergency Departments all over the country are open and are there to help you and your loved ones. Please don’t delay seeking the care that you need. ”
The IMO, Dr. McGarry said, would seek to negotiate with any incoming Government on the scale and focus of a badly needed investment programme for the health services. Priorities for the IMO would include:
- Increasing the capacity of the public hospitals
- Investment to recruit and retain doctors to work in the health service here, including targeted measures to address our unprecedented number of Consultant vacancies.
- Investment programme for General Practice which has proven its pivotal position in the frontline of the public health response to Covid-19.
- Investing in and supporting our public health doctors and recognising their invaluable contribution to national health policy and the well-being of the nation.