The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned that health services here will be overwhelmed unless a radically different approach is taken to funding them.
Dr Ann Hogan was speaking today after the publication of the ESRI Report 'Projects of Demand for Healthcare in Ireland 2015-2030' predicting rising demand for healthcare services.
Dr Hogan said that the ESRI report backed up warnings on this issue which have been made by the IMO over many years.
"We have warned repeatedly of the terrible challenges that lie ahead. Now that the ESRI have supported our arguments, I hope that the Government finally pays heed to the dangers ahead."
- The population will grow by between 640,000 and 1.1 million people;
- The share of population aged 65 or over will increase from one in eight to one in six;
- The number of people over 85 will double;
- There will be a 54% increase in demand for residential and intermediate care places in nursing homes and other settings;
- There will be a 37% increase in demand for inpatient bed days and up to 3% increase for inpatient cases in public hospital services;
- Demand for GP visits is projected to rise by 27%.
Dr Hogan said that these forecast increases will place intolerable pressure on the health services infrastructure and make the problems the system is facing today seem trivial.
"Our system can’t cope with the level of demand we have now. Every sector of the health service is under resourced and under pressure," he said.
"Doctors are emigrating rather than work here. Patients are being forced into intolerable delays. Hospitals are operating at danger levels and GP services are being destroyed. We need to urgently prioritise this situation as a national emergency and plan accordingly."
Dr Hogan signalled out the ESRI warnings around the increase in the numbers of people over the age of 65 and particularly 85.
"An aging population will put enormous pressures on the health services. There will be a massive increase in demand for chronic healthcare, GP services and beds in hospitals and nursing homes. There is no sense that the Government is taking appropriate steps to prepare for what is coming."