Sláintecare: Doctors warn of capacity issues and urge resources now

The health reform envisaged by Sláintecare will mean nothing for many people in need of urgent treatment now, doctors believe.

Sláintecare: Doctors warn of capacity issues and urge resources now

The health reform envisaged by Sláintecare will mean nothing for many people in need of urgent treatment now, doctors believe.

The Sláintecare implementation strategy will become just another aspirational document unless significant resources are allocated immediately, according to the Irish Medical Organisation.

IMO president Peadar Gilligan said while the plan is welcome, the elephant in the room is resources.

“We have huge capacity problems in our health service today and what we need is urgent and sustained investment to counteract the damage done by years of budget cuts and there is no detail on how or at what pace the Government plan to invest,” said Dr Gilligan.

While Health Minister Simon Harris acknowledged the need for additional resources, the amount needed is far from agreed, said Dr Gilligan. “The reality is that for many people in urgent need of treatment now, Sláintecare will mean little or nothing at all. We are dealing with a system in crisis, which needs urgent, substantial, additional resources simply to be stabilised.”

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation warned that unless the Government focuses on solving the recruitment and retention crisis in nursing and midwifery, the expanded services in Sláintecare would not become a reality.

“Nurses and midwives’ inadequate pay has to be addressed,” said INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

“And while ministers are right to allocate extra capital spending for the health service, that will be money down the drain unless new facilities are properly staffed.”

The National Association of General Practitioners said Sláintecare was first published 423 days ago, after securing all-party agreement, and the Government’s belated response yesterday smacked of empty rhetoric.

The NAGP said there were no costings for the 106 measures, which includes a new GP contract.

The association, which represents over 2,000 general practitioners, said it received assurances from the minister’s office yesterday that they would be included in the contract negotiations.

However, without proper funding for GP-led primary care and Sláintecare, the assurances were meaningless.

“If contract negotiations are further stalled, the NAGP will have no alternative but to advise its members to work to contract,” said the association’s chief executive Chris Goodey.

The NAGP recommends that GPs who feel their practices have reached the limit of safe capacity, in terms of patient numbers, should close lists to new patients.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association believes the Sláintecare implementation strategy is “inherently flawed” because it fails to provide adequate solutions to capacity deficits in the country’s acute hospitals.

The IHCA said there is a critical shortage of hospital beds, consultants, other frontline staff, and equipment that is impeding the ability of their members to care for patients.

The Private Hospitals Association said patients would have to wait a decade for the new elective hospitals and that action is needed now on cutting hospital waiting lists.

It said the lack of clarity surrounding the separation of public and private healthcare is regrettable and would further frustrate the over-arching aims of the plan to reform the entirety of the health service.

The Irish Patients Association said it would be a shame if political point scoring undermined or destroyed Sláintecare.

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