ENDING hospital waiting lists would be a “guarantee” rather than an aspiration under a Fine Gael government, health spokesman Dr James Reilly said.
The party would change the current financing system for hospitals so that they get paid per patient rather than per year.
“No longer will hospitals receive a budget for a year, so that when the money runs out, operations cease, regardless of how inefficiently the money’s been used,” Dr Reilly said.
“Instead, each hospital will get a maintenance budget. After that, they’ll be paid per patient, per procedure, per complexity of procedure — in much the same manner as the Mater Private Hospital or the Blackrock Clinic — but for everyone.
“The patient, the moment they cross the threshold of a hospital, will be seen as a resource to be cherished. Not left languishing on a trolley for four days,” he added.
Pressure on hospitals would be eased by “bringing the service to the patient” through the provision of primary centre centres, he said. These would be local facilities where groups of GPs would operate with nurses in modern buildings housing X-ray, ultrasound and endoscopy.
“If you’re the patient, you’ll be treated by a doctor you know. Who knows you,” he said. “That doctor will be able to have tests done right there instead of having to send you into a hospital for them, with all the delays that would imply. You’ll get your diagnosis quicker. Treatment will start immediately.”
To eliminate the waiting lists, Fine Gael would draw on the model used in the North, he said.
“They succeeded in doing away with a waiting list of 57,000 people in just 18 months. If they can do it, we can do it,” Dr Reilly added.
Having cleared waiting lists, the party would then put in place the hospital financing system whereby the money followed the patient, he said.
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