Irish Medical Organisation

IMO Calls For Public Debate on Universal Health Coverage

Media Release 9th April 2010 – IMO Annual General Meeting

The Irish Medical Organisation believes that Government policies encouraging the development of private hospitals and private health insurance have sparked fears that health care in Ireland may be steering towards the US model rather than the European model.

Launching a position paper on Universal Health Coverage at the IMO Annual General Meeting in Killarney, IMO President, Professor Sean Tierney said; “With mounting pressure on the health care budget, due to the global downturn and demographic change, the fear of lack of services has pushed the debate on universal health insurance firmly onto the public agenda”

Prof. Tierney said; “Whatever changes are introduced to health coverage in Ireland, the process by which change is brought in must include:

  • Informed public debate
  • Consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including patients and doctors
  • Detail of the proposed model including funding sources
  • Analysis of current and future manpower resources required for implementation and a realistic time-table for implementation.

“There must be widespread support and commitment to a model that will last over time and be protected from changes in political agendas. Therefore, the advantages of any new system, as well as the time and resources needed to implement change, must be clearly communicated to the public.”

He said; “Despite the increase in public health care expenditure Ireland’s health system faces a number of issues and challenges including access to services, inequity and sustainability.”

In his annual address to the conference, IMO Chief Executive said; “I would warn against any attempt by the State to try and use the private health system to shore up an under-funded public health services. Privatisation in the area of health has been proved to be a failed ideology across the world and can only ever benefit the better off.”

He added; “While we acknowledge the role of private medicine in Ireland and the part it has played in the provision of some services, private medicine is not and cannot be a substitute for a publically funded system. Neither is there a case for selling off our public health services to private entrepreneurs, as some people now advocate.”

The IMO have outlined broad principles in their position paper which should form the basis of a universal health care system, these include

  • Universal access to adequate healthcare for all
  • Health services that are free at the point of access
  • Equity of access
  • Solidarity
  • Transparency
  • Quality of care and value for money
  • Choice and Mobility
  • Clinical Autonomy
  • Efficiency
  • Affordability
  • Sustainability

Prof. Tierney said; “The IMO is committed to a universal healthcare system that aims to secure access to adequate quality healthcare driven by professional patient centred values. Healthcare that is there for all when they need it and at an affordable cost.”

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