Health service crisis - New regime must make a difference

OPTIMISTICALLY, the incoming head of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) will deliver on her promise which is that the organisation will fight for a better health service.

That is not to suggest that it has been tolerant of it up to now, but nobody will disagree with the new president, Co Tipperary-based consultant Christine O’Malley, who has said the health service is in turmoil.

Certainly, the Government cannot refute her statement as the Tánaiste and Health Minister Mary Harney has already declared the situation in A&E units to be a national emergency.

In many ways, the health service is going back, this despite the fact that billions of euro are being poured into it.

As Ms O’Malley pointed out, there were 18,000 acute hospital beds available in 1980, but in 2000 this figure had been reduced to 12,000.

What is rarely, if ever, mentioned by Government ministers is the fact that for the past four years the embargo on recruitment has been in place.

While the population is growing, the Government not merely allows the health service show signs of crumbling, but will not allow critical staff be recruited.

Hopefully, the new regime will make a difference.

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