IMO responds to Budget 2021
IMO welcomes additional investment but highlights need to commit to multi annual funding to bring capacity and medical staffing to safe levels
Investment increase is welcome but the chronic shortage in medical staffing is hugely challenging
Tuesday 13th October 2020. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) welcomes a number of initiatives in Budget 2021. Given years of under-investment in capacity, this budget begins to address the shortfall in beds and the move of care to the community. However, it must be accompanied by a guaranteed, multi-annual investment to increase bed numbers by at least 5000 over a relatively short period of time while at the same time increasing resources in the community to allow GPs to deliver appropriate well resourced care locally.
Speaking today Dr Padraig McGarry, IMO President said “We remain deeply concerned about the crisis in medical manpower and whether there are real plans to tackle this. Nevertheless we recognise the scale of the investment announced today. It is tragic that it took a pandemic to finally get the investment that our health services have needed for over a decade. While we absolutely welcome any additional investment this cannot be once off expenditure and must continue to improve year on year until we have the capacity we need.”
The IMO believes is critical that we have a health service that can deliver both COVID and non COVID care so we welcome the investment in trauma, maternity and cancer services. However, we have grave concerns around the waiting lists and the ongoing policy of diverting huge sums of money to the private system through NPTF to deliver care. We must develop a sustainable funding model, accompanied by appropriate staffing numbers to deliver care within our public health services. Similarly it is critical that investment in mental health services is directed to the services under extreme pressure.
At a time when there are so many competing demands on the State’s resources the IMO believes that Government should view health spending as an enabler of economic recovery. We hope that this investment will be the first step on a meaningful road to recovery for our services. The IMO wants to see any budgetary investment frontloaded so that any improvements can happen quickly.
Dr Padraig McGarry, added “To have a health system that really works for patients we must have consultant led multi-disciplinary teams across both the acute sector, community health services and public health departments but at the moment we have 500 vacant consultant posts across the HSE and no public health consultants. Our inability to recruit doctors is driven by a wholly discriminatory and damaging pay policy and this Budget does nothing to address that. Additionally we need to bring in creative measures to attract new GPs into the systems particularly in circumstances where over 600 GPs are due to retire in the coming years. And we must have appropriately resourced training pathways for our NCHDs or we will continue to see the exodus of doctors to health systems that value them and resource them to deliver care.”
The IMO is committed to ensuring that our health services are capable of meeting the needs of patients in a timely manner and to do this we must tackle the inequities in the system for both patients and the doctors who are treating them.