IMO: HSE’s overdue acknowledgement of year-round problem in hospitals ‘means nothing without significant investment in capacity and staff’
- IMO response to Winter Plan, September 2016: “We have a year-round bed crisis in our public hospitals, not a winter crisis.”
- IMO response to Winter Plan, December 2018: “As usual the Winter Plan ignores key issues and offers little in the way of meaningful solutions.”
- IMO response to Winter Plan, September 2020: “This moment demands more than temporary measures or clever ‘workarounds’ to manage what promises to be a herculean challenge.”
- IMO response to Winter Plan, November 2021: The Winter Plan is like using a sticking plaster to cover a gaping wound . . . until we fix these problems, we will forever be trying to prevent a crisis becoming a catastrophe.”
- IMO response to Winter Plan, October 2022: “The annual unveiling of the Winter Plan for the health services has become increasingly unmoored from the daily reality of the services . . . the monies promised today are simply insufficient to tackle the enormity of the year-round challenge facing our health service.”
- Bernard Gloster, HSE CEO, May 2023: “Pressure in emergency departments is a year-round problem now.”
Monday May 8 2023. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has said that the HSE’s overdue acknowledgement of a “year-round problem” in our hospitals is welcomed but means nothing without significant investment in capacity and staff.
The root of the issues affecting our health services, and leading patients to wait unsafe times for care, lies in the fact that there are too few beds, too few doctors and too few healthcare professionals to deliver the care required by patients.
The increase in our population and the complexity of care required for the older citizens of our country were entirely predictable and yet little was done in terms of planning and funding infrastructure or staff to meet those needs.
Speaking today, Professor Matthew Sadlier, Chairman of the Consultant Committee of the IMO, said: “For years now the IMO has warned that the pressure in our emergency departments is not merely a winter problem but a year-round crisis, and any plan to address this crisis must address capacity and doctor recruitment and retention in a meaningful way.
“To date, successive governments have side-stepped the issue which has led to an entirely predictable and avoidable state of affairs in our hospitals. The HSE’s admission of a year-round problem is welcome, but it means nothing without meaningful investment in beds and far greater numbers of staff working in the health services. We have no workforce plan and until we have sufficient staff at all levels in our services we will just be moving services around across seven days – not improving access for patients.”
He added that doctors, including consultants, are already providing seven day services through on call rosters to deal with urgent patient need. With over 900 vacant or temporary filled consultant posts we simply do not have enough consultants to provide routine services over five days, let alone seven days.
“Hospitals rely on multi-disciplinary teams in order to ensure the patient journey is as safe as possible. Any break in the chain has a ripple effect which disrupts the entire process, so it stands to reason that doctors need the right level of support at any times they are working. It is not simply a matter of coming in on a Saturday and discharging patients; patients can only be discharged when there are safe and appropriate pathways for them to transfer to.
“To talk about ‘record’ health budgets is simply to mask the problems – we do not have enough beds or doctors or other healthcare staff to meet patient need and until that is addressed we will continue to experience the endless cycle of crisis within our health services.”