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Enduring concerns over spending and pace of Sláintecare – Dr Harty

One of the authors of the Sláintecare Report believes “implementation is slow” and remains “unconvinced that there is a financial commitment to deliver”.

Independent Clare TD Dr Michael Harty  is Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and was a member of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, which published Sláintecare in May 2017.

Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI), the Clare GP said that he remained concerned that the Sláintecare implementation office was located in the Department of Health, rather than the Taoiseach’s office, which was first envisioned.

“I don’t think it is progressing the way I would like it to progress,” he told MI last month.

“When we set out the implementation section of Sláintecare we were very conscious that it needed to have an implementation office, which was independent of the Department of Health and which was placed within the Taoiseach’s office giving it that highest level of political influence and political dynamism.

“We were as a committee very disappointed that it was placed within the Department of Health because we could see … it would not have the independence that we wanted it to have.”

However, Dr Harty did note that the Sláintecare programme implementation office had been established under the leadership of Ms Laura Magahy.

 “That is beginning to roll-out an innovation fund that is to stimulate areas of general practice, which can bring positive change to patients and that is the whole purpose of Sláintecare.”

“However, the rate of implementation is slow, [I am] not absolutely convinced that there is the financial commitment to deliver, because you cannot deliver Sláintecare from current health spending, there has to be ringfenced specific funding to help it develop,” warned Dr Harty.

“It does place general practice at the centre of health and does emphasis a shift to primary care. That has not happened yet. Until the manpower issue in general practice is addressed, we are not going to be able to deliver Sláintecare. It has to be built on the foundation of strong robust general practice.”

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