#GE16: The last word from the parties on health

It's the turn of health - where do the parties and candidates stand on this issue?

#GE16: The last word from the parties on health

QUESTION: Health was identified by our readers as the priority #GE16 issue. Can you outline your party’s position on the desired shape of health provision in the years ahead and set out what the two primary targets and goals in that area would be if given sufficient mandate.

Fianna Fáil: Billy Kelleher - (Candidate in Cork North Central )

Fianna Fáil is committed to a publicly funded health care system. We will focus on putting patients and services first rather than structures. Unlike the government’s broken promises of UHI and free GP care we will focus on practical measures to improve our health service.

Specifically we will reactivate the National Treatment Purchase Fund with a €100m spend to reduce waiting lists to the international standard of six months.

In addition we will hire 4,000 nurses, 500 consultants and 250 GPs as well as 400 extra acute hospital beds in order to reduce ED waiting times to 6 hours.

These measures form part of a broader policy that commits an additional €1.3bn in spending to address the crisis in our health system.

Fine Gael: Simon Coveney - (Candidate in Cork South Central)

Fine Gael inherited a badly organised and underfunded health service. While Fianna Fáil cut health spending during its final years in government, Fine Gael has used the economic recovery to start rebuilding our health services.

Fine Gael is committed to delivering a strong and efficient publicly funded health service. Our key targets are to deliver 4,400 more frontline staff by 2021; introducing free GP care for under 18s; upgrading IT system and addressing Emergency Department overcrowding and waiting lists. Secondly Fine Gael will implement a health reform programme to dismantle the HSE and address prices of medication.

Green Party: Eamon Ryan - (Candidate in Dublin Bay South)

The Green Party favour abolition of the HSE and the creation of a Community Health Organisation (CHO), which would prioritise medical care and health promotion in communities, rather than in centralised hospital settings. We would prioritise patient-centred care, where doctors, nurses, hospitals and clinics work with patients to help prevent problems before they become acute and need expensive treatment.

Community pharmacies, general practices, community health centres and hospitals would all play a role in this new approach to the health system, which would focus on health promotion and community care, rather than the current narrow focus on treatment.

The Green Party believes that our health service should have the patient at the centre of all care and should be delivered as close as possible to the patient’s home. Given the spatial nature of Ireland’s population, the UK’s NHS model isn’t suitable. We envisage that mobile or electronic service delivery will play an increasing role.

We envisage paramedical services arranged in regions based on practical response times, rather than political boundaries as being the ‘first responders’. These first responders should refer suitable medical problems to community pharmacies, community health drop-in centres, general practices, hospitals or other services as appropriate. We also support the introduction of a 24 hour triage and health concerns telephone and website service which helps to direct patients into appropriate streams of care. This will create a world class health care system that is cheaper and more efficient, and where decisions are made at the lowest possible level.

Labour: Tánaiste Joan Burton - (Candidate in Dublin West)

1. Extending free GP care to all and

2. Creating a new National Community Health Service, which will be overseen by a new Cabinet position with direct political responsibility to oversee this critical national project.

RENUA Ireland: Paul Bradford (Candidate in Cork East)

The stop-start nature of health care reform is now a source of national demoralization. We have a system in permanent crisis mode which is permanently ‘on the brink’. Bad healthcare is not like the weather. We can change it.

It is time now to do rather than talk.

The time for reports, where each new government spends its first three years in office developing a report or policy such as UHI and then spends the last two years failing to implement it is over.

If one looks at UHI it would have bankrupted the working and the middle classes.

Such is the extent of the problem RENUA Ireland believes a National Health Forum must be created where all stake-holders can broker a solution and deliver a twenty year plan for health-care.

We have seen enough reports.

These must now be activated within a formal setting that will act in a similar manner to the original social partnership process in 1987.

Outside of creating a climate of impetus and reform our second priority is to radically increase the role of GP’s and of primary care centres in our health-care system. We intend to reform from the grass roots up in medical provision.

Sinn Féin: Gerry Adams - (Candidate in Louth)

Health is a core priority for us and unlike the other parties we believe the system can work. We have a plan for a world-class free one-tier health care service paid for through the general taxation system.

The health crisis is the result of two key failings on the part of successive governments: firstly, fundamental inequality in how patients are treated, dependent on ability to pay and location; and secondly, the sheer incapacity of the system to deal with even demographic pressures, evidenced particularly in our Emergency Departments and maternity care.

Our immediate primary targets to reach our goal would be 1. Begin eliminating charges to the public while increasing exchequer funding to healthcare – e.g. rolling out free GP care and abolishing A&E, prescription and overnight hospital charges. And 2. Increase capacity to enable access – e.g. bring over 6,600 health staff into the service, increase bed numbers (and nursing home beds), invest in maternity services. We’ve produced a comprehensive plan on healthcare available on our website

Social Democrats: Ken Curtin - (Candidate in Cork East)

Our health service is at breaking point following decade of mismanagement however we have incredibly talented frontline healthcare staff, a large health budget and widespread public support for major reform. The Social Democrats propose to establish an Irish NHS to harness these strengths.

Between 2016 and 2016 we will:

  • Switch activity and care away from acute hospitals and into the community (Phase 1)
  • Provide universal access to primary and community healthcare services (Phase 2);
  • Improve access and outcomes in the public hospital service (Phase 3).

Staffing:

  • Devise a recruitment plan focused on building a skill mix across the health service;
  • Invest in primary care centres around the country;
  • Launch a major recruitment programme for G.P.s, nurses and frontline community health staff to deliver better care, at lower cost, closer to home

Targeted service provision:

  • Launch thoroughly researched evidence-based health campaigns to tackle obesity, tobacco, alcohol and drugs and optimise preventative care measures;
  • Carry out a full health-need and socioeconomic analysis of each health area;
  • Establish an objective resource allocation model to determine all staff/ facilities allocations;
  • Publish up-to-date Waiting List Data on-line so patients can be referred to hospitals and consultants with the shortest waiting times;
  • Provide full medical cards for children who qualify for Domiciliary Care Allowance;
  • Roll-out free GP-Care for all children;
  • Improve medical card access for older people by using net income;
  • Reduce spend on administration, improve commissioning of private sector care, and move to the average OECD per capita spend on pharmaceutical drugs.

AAA/PBP: Paul Murphy (Candidate in Dublin South West)

We want to build a properly resourced National Health Service, free at the point of use and paid for through progressive central taxation, that will do away with the pattern whereby people pay three times – via private insurance, taxes and hospital charges for access to a dysfunctional health service. All of the cuts that have been implemented over the past eight years must be reversed. All of the privatisation and outsourcing initiatives that have been taken should be reversed.

Source: ​Answers supplied to irishexaminer.com on Wednesday, February 24 as part of a #GE16 Q&A​

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