Irish Medical Organisation

IMO AGM to hear of growing threats to the doctor patient relationship.

AGM will focus on

  • The need for Government to rapidly invest in capacity and medical workforce.
  • The impact of HSE Recruitment Freeze on patient care.
  • The proliferation of disinformation and the impact of social media on health.

Thursday 4th April 2024.  The incoming President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned that there are growing threats to the central role of doctors in the Irish Health Services.  Dr. Denis McCauley (a GP based in Donegal) was speaking ahead of the AGM of the IMO which takes place in Killarney from Thursday to Sunday.  Dr. McCauley will become President this evening (Thursday) as the AGM begins.

Dr. McCauley warned that we are facing a crisis of funding in the health service and there needs to be a step change that allows rapid and significant funding in infrastructure and workforce. 

Dr. McCauley said “the current HSE recruitment freeze is exacerbating problems and posing enormous strain on a system already under pressure.  Growing population and longer life expectancy demands greater investment in health infrastructure and workforce to meet the needs of patients and this is simply not happening at the speed that is required.”

Dr. McCauley continued; “the doctor, patient relationship is the foundational relationship in medicine.  We have too few doctors and we have concerns that we are moving to a model of fragmented care where patients are not best served.  The value and expertise of doctors, after years of training, should not be undermined but supported, encouraged, and resourced. Of course, there will be new grades within the health system such as Physician Associates.  They have their own role to play, in line with their training, but they cannot replace doctors.  There have been a number of controversies in the NHS arising from the growing use of Physician Associates (PAs) in place of doctors as opposed to in a supporting role to doctors so if they are to be deployed in the Irish system, it is vital that their role is regulated and limited”. 

As well as debating the role of the doctor the meeting will have panel discussions on the impact which Artificial Intelligence may have on the delivery of healthcare and how that should be regulated.  There will also be a session on the very negative impact social media is having on both physical and mental health. The meeting will be addressed (Friday) by Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD and (Saturday) by the CEO of the HSE, Bernard Gloster.

Dr McCauley said “We want to ensure that patients are at the centre of the delivery of healthcare, but we must have enough doctors in the system to diagnose and treat them. There is a global shortage of doctors, and we must redouble our efforts to ensure we are enabling doctors to do the job for which they have trained for so long – that means a work environment that is well resourced and has the capacity to meet the needs of patients.”

Motions to be debated at the AGM include ones on

  • the HSE Recruitment Freeze
  • the need for greater capacity and manpower planning
  • the need to restrict the use of social media by young people on the grounds of mental health
  • and on mental health issues

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