Irish Medical Organisation

IMO responds to Government Plan for Waiting Lists

“While we welcome any additional funding we must invest in our public services on a sustainable basis to increase capacity.  This plan does not address the fundamental underlying issue which is the crisis in our medical workforce.” – IMO Consultant Chair

Friday 25th March 2022.  The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has said that the Governments’ Waiting List Action Plan is destined to fail as it is not supported by investment in recruitment of consultants.  With almost 700 consultant vacancies, no plans to increase trainee numbers and existing trainees being forced to work beyond legal hours to keep the current service going we have gone beyond safe limits for delivering patient care. 

There are currently almost a million citizens on waiting lists for medical treatment in Ireland including over a quarter of a million who have been on lists for over a year. 

The IMO’s key concerns about the plan are:

  • Failure to address the consultant crisis. The recruitment and retention crisis is inextricably linked to the waiting list crisis.  If we don’t get more consultants on board, we don’t have the workforce to do the work to reduce waiting times. 
  • Failure to recognise that NCHDs (junior doctors) are already working excessive and illegal hours.
  • Absence of any commitment to increase acute hospital bed numbers to the minimum required levels identified in repeated reports.
  • Reliance on short-term boosting of National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) and private hospitals over sustained investment in the public hospital system.

The Consultant Chair of IMO Dr Clive Kilgallen said; “our dangerous waiting list crisis is a tragedy for almost a million of our citizens and it demands a plan that addresses all the issues – recruitment and capacity.  That links directly to the Government’s persistence with a discriminatory two-tier pay system which penalises new appointments and has made Ireland poorly placed to attract and retain the very professionals we most need to come here to work.”

This plan relies on further exploiting an already exhausted workforce, working with inadequate resources in terms of staffed beds, operating theatres and other clinical facilities – many of which continue to be closed due to COVID outbreaks among patients and staff. 

Dr. Kilgallen said that while more investment is to be welcomed and is much needed this is not ambitious enough in terms of what we need to sustain and develop our health services.  “It’s too little to impact on the scale of the problem and utterly fails to address the root causes that has brought our health service to this sorry state. ”

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