The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) welcomed the recognition, outlined in the HSE National Service Plan, that those working in the front line in the health service have delivered on their responsibility and continue to do so - treating more patients (particularly as day cases) and treating them more promptly.
Prof. Sean Tierney, IMO Vice President said; “While the delivery of these targets may be rewarded by performance payments to senior staff within the HSE, the extra work and the increased efficiency is being delivered by doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals and staff working on the health services. This is despite the public sector embargo which prohibits the replacement of key staff in many areas who are ill, who retire, or who leave. More and more care is being delivered by less and less staff despite their two pay reductions in the past twelve months.”
However, the IMO have outlined a number of areas for concerns in the Plan.
Prof. Tierney said; “The closure of 1000 beds is a major cause for concern. We have all welcomed the plans to deliver care to patients in their own homes and in the community. Indeed, most of the plans to do this have come from doctors and health professionals working in the front line and there is much more that can be done.
The IMO fully supports the strategy to move away from providing care in acute hospitals, both inpatient and outpatients where this is not necessary, and provide this in primary care. However, the introduction of Primary Care Centres and integrated pathways for those with chronic diseases tomorrow will not eliminate the need for acute hospitals today,” said Prof. Tierney.
“The acute hospital sector is already unable to meet the needs of those requiring emergency admissions.”
He said; “While the Minister for Health & Children has said that there are no problems in coping with emergency admissions, this is not the experience of our members working in acute hospitals and Emergency Departments around the country.
“Where patients are being moved out of the Emergency Department within the 12 hour deadline required by the HSE, it has been at the expense of "elective" admissions. These are patients with cancer, serious cardiovascular disorders and other life threatening problems who have their admission cancelled and their own lives and those of their families put on hold while they wait for an hour, a day, a week or more for a phone call. Many of these then end up in our emergency departments when they can wait no longer.”
“We cannot compensate for the proposed loss of 1,000 bed equivalents out of our public hospital system this year by the rolling out of Primary Care Centres and chronic disease management strategies.”
“It is not just the IMO that has said this. Independent reports commissioned by the government have told us this. And if there is still any doubt, you only need to walk into any Emergency Department in one of our Dublin Hospitals and ask the first person you meet,” said Prof. Tierney.
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