'Universal healthcare' the mission for next government, document outlines

'Universal healthcare' the mission for next government, document outlines
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The new programme for government document details how the three parties propose to deal with healthcare.

Implementing Sláintecare is seen as a key priority, with a promise to finalise the new Sláintecare consultant contract and legislate for public-only work in public hospitals.

They also promise to extend medical cards to the terminally ill, extend free GP care to more children and cap parking charges in hospitals.

Significant work will be done for women’s health, mental health and drug treatment policy including full implementation of the recommendations contained in Dr Scally’s Reports of the Scoping Inquiry, and all other reports into Cervical Check and free contraception over a phased period, starting with women aged 17-25.

In terms of drugs and addiction, promises have been made to review the regulations and legislation that apply to cannabis use for medical conditions and palliative care having regard to the experience in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and convene a Citizens’ Assembly to consider matters relating to drugs use.

The document reads the “Mission” is “Universal Healthcare”.

“Our priority is to protect public health, patients and to ensure capacity for future surges of Covid-19,” the document reads.

As we move forward, we will accelerate the implementation of Sláintecare.

“At its core, Sláintecare commits to ensuring people have access to affordable health care services.

“Many of the healthcare responses to COVID-19 are important elements of Sláintecare, and we will identify how to keep the gains,” the document adds.

“Underpinning our approach will be the provision of more health services in the community, increases in capacity including bed, ICU and critical care capacity and the promotion of good public health policy.”

The parties say leadership at the highest level with the Cabinet Committee on Health, chaired by the Taoiseach, will give overall strategic direction and will oversee implementation of Sláintecare.

Over the lifetime of the Government, they say they will seek to expand universal access to healthcare in a manner which fair and affordable.

  • Increase homecare hours and introduce a Statutory Homecare Scheme
  • Extend free GP care to more children
  • Extend free GP care to carers in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant
  • Abolish in-patient hospital charges for children
  • Extend free dental care to more children
  • Introduce baby boxes for all new parents
  • Reduce prescription charges and the Drug Payment Scheme threshold
  • Increase the income threshold on medical cards for people over 70
  • Introduce a cap on the maximum daily charge for car parking charge for patients and visitors at all public hospitals, where possible. Introduce flexible passes in all hospitals for patients and their families

In the wake of Covid-19, the parties will seek to restart essential services which had been put on pause due to the pandemic.

The document details how the health service in Ireland will be dramatically changed in order to adjust to a new normal in the sector.

  • Examine new ways to utilise community settings and create partnerships with our private hospitals to avoid placing increased pressure on the public system
  • Ensure capacity, particularly bed and critical care capacity, for a Covid-19 rapid response and for non-Covid-19 emergencies into the longer term
  • Prioritise the elective-only programme to treat patients and to manage the reduced capacity as a result of Covid-19
  • Maintain an intense focus on Covid-19 and follow four guiding principles: isolate, test, trace and treat, to enable a speedy reaction should there be an increase in cases
  • Maintain ongoing monitoring of international experience and knowledge to assist in ensuring the safety of patients and healthcare workers

Trolleys and waiting lists have plagued previous governments, one it appears they wanted to tackle head on. Under this banner, the document commits to creating significant additional capacity the parties will:

  • Continue investment in healthcare infrastructure and equipment, together with the recommendations of the Capacity Review, in line with Project Ireland 2040
  • Ensure capacity for a Covid-19 rapid response, including bed and ICU capacity and for non-Covid emergencies into the longer term by utilising some private hospital capacity if necessary
  • Open the National Children’s Hospital
  • Deliver the second cath lab in Waterford University Hospital
  • Conclude the governance arrangements and commence the building of the new maternity Hospital at St Vincent’s Hospital
  • Provide new radiation oncology facilities in Galway and Dublin
  • Through the Design and Dignity Programme renovate and renew eleven mortuaries across the country
  • Increase capacity in our National Ambulance Service and expand Community First Responder schemes

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