Both the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) and the Irish Nurses’ Organisation (INO) have accused the Government of putting the quality of the public health system at risk through its support for privatisation.
At a press conference yesterday, the heads of the two bodies voiced their support for the Health Service Action Group’s (HSAG) campaign to stop the drive towards privatisation.
INO president Madeline Spiers said the Government had promised in its 2001 Health Strategy to develop a fair and equitable public health service. It was what they were elected on but it was never funded, he said.
IMO deputy president Dr Christine O’Malley said private for-profit hospitals would not treat emergency cases because of the high cost involved.
Such cases would be left to the “battle weary” doctors and nurses in run-down and overcrowded public hospitals to deal with.
“We frontline workers are finding it increasingly difficult year on year in the health service. We are holding it together with pins and string and the Government have begun to realise that their policies are not working so they have turned around and blamed the workers,” she said.
“I find there is an incredible anger out there against Government policy on the health service,” she said.
Both Dr O’Malley and Ms Spiers will be the main speakers at a conference to discuss the issue at Liberty Hall, Dublin, tomorrow.
HSAG member Dr John Barton said international research showed the cost of private hospital care was greater, the quality of care was less and the mortality rate was higher.
“You do not solve your public hospital system problems by encouraging a private sector. There is no evidence internationally that the parallel private hospital sector in the OECD has reduced pressure on the public hospital system,” Dr Barton said.
Both Britain and Australia had gone down the route of public/private partnerships in health care and it had not worked as well as the governments of both countries had hoped. And, he claimed, patients had suffered as a result.
“There seems to be something extraordinarily odd that taxpayers’ money is being used to build for-profit hospitals. There is no other nation in the OECD that I know of that has gone down this route,” he said.