IMO AGM to focus attention on Capacity Crisis across the Health Services
Incoming IMO President – “it’s now inevitable that overcrowding and understaffing in the health services is causing avoidable fatalities and poor health outcomes.”
Thursday 13th April 2023. The incoming President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned that the overcrowding and understaffing in the Irish Health Services is causing avoidable fatalities and poorer health outcomes – tragedies that might otherwise be avoided.
Dr. John Cannon was speaking as doctors from all specialties – Consultants, GPs, NCHDs, Public and Community Health gather for the AGM of the Irish Medical Organisation. The AGM is taking place in Killarney, Co. Kerry from today (Thursday) through to Saturday evening.
The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, is due to address the conference on Saturday.
The opening session at the AGM later today will focus on Medical Workforce Planning. Featured speakers include the CEO of the Medical Council, Mr. Leo Kearns and Dr. Roisin Morris, Medical Workforce Planning Lead, NDTP (National Doctors Training and Planning) in the HSE.
Speaking today incoming President Dr. Cannon said, “Our focus this weekend is the capacity crisis that now plagues all aspects of the health services including Hospitals, General Practice, and Community Services. Tragically, it is inevitable that this capacity crisis is contributing to increased avoidable mortality because patients are being treated in overcrowded hospitals or treatment is being delayed in primary or secondary care settings as capacity cannot meet patient need.”
Dr. Cannon said that the capacity crisis was compounded by the recruitment and retention crisis which has seen the HSE struggle to fill the roles left by retiring GPs or to fill the 900+ vacancies at consultant level, while NCHDs are continuing to work unsafe hours to cover rota gaps; “There is a shortage of doctors globally and we are simply not doing enough to either retain our workforce or to attract much needed doctors back to Ireland”.
He said, “Too few beds means overcrowding in Emergency Departments and long waits to access a hospital bed. Unfilled consultant posts mean longer waiting lists for outpatient and consequent treatment. Too few GPs means waiting times for GP appointments, with at least 10% of the population being unable to sign up with a GP because their patient lists are at capacity.”
Dr. Cannon said that the IMO has been consistently highlighting the devasting effects of a decade of underfunding and lack of capacity investment while at the same time we have a growing and aging population with more complex care demands; “ We need Government to understand that health spending must meet demand and not be driven solely by fiscal policy, a strong economy depends on a healthy population”.
He said; “the capacity crisis is real and it is dangerous. Dangerous for patients and dangerous for people working in the health services. We need action and we need it urgently.”