Increase health budget to meet needs, say doctors

A doctors’ group has called for the health budget to be overhauled to avoid a further deterioration of public health services.

President of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Ann Hogan

President of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Ann Hogan, said doctors, and other medical professionals, doubted the capacity of the traditional budgetary process to deal with the scale of mounting challenges.

The cumulative impact of almost a decade of austerity in the health service, a growing and ageing population, and too few doctors, was a “potentially devastating” situation, said Dr Hogan.

“We’ve a range of massive problems to deal with, but, unless we can address the manpower crisis, we won’t be able to fix anything at all,” said Dr Hogan, when the organisation published it pre-budget submission yesterday.

With hundreds of GPs expected to retire in the coming years, there will be a shortage of 2,055 doctors by 2025, the HSE said.

The IMO said that 1,600 fewer consultants are working in the public health services and that up to 400 approved consultant posts remained unfilled or filled on a temporary basis

The IMO said Ireland needs 3,500 acute hospital beds to match the West European average, but the HSE was only planning to add 38 beds to the hospital system this year.

It also wants funding for the National Treatment Purchase Fund to be used to support the elective surgery programme.

Dr Hogan said the IMO had become increasingly concerned, in recent years, at the cost of innovative new medicines and their potential to threaten the stability of healthcare spending.

“Innovative, new drugs have the potential to change the lives of hundreds of patients. However, they often come at a prohibitive cost,” she said.

The IMO wants the Government to establish a working group to examine pharmaceutical expenditure and to recommend measures to ensure affordability and access to essential medicines in Ireland.

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