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Minister for Health Simon Harris emphasised the importance of the work of the Committee in his speech to the Conference. Answering some concerns raised by IHCA President Dr Tom Ryan, Minister Harris said that the work of this Committee will be different.
“This is not just another report,” the Minister said in relation to the report that the Committee is due to publish on the completion of its work. He contrasted this forthcoming report with other plans from the past, which were associated with a specific “government or minister”.
Minister Harris said this plan will be long term, beyond the confines of any specific government or minister.
Speaking later in the day, IHCA Secretary General Mr Martin Varley said that the work of the Committee “presents real opportunity if it addresses capacity and staffing problems”.
However, he warned that if the Committee’s report does not focus on these issues, “it could well set back healthcare back for decades”.
The Medical Independent (MI) has reported in recent months on concerns raised over the political composition of the Committee, and fears from some observers that it could become a “talking shop”.
Answering questions from MI at the Conference, Mr Varley did not criticise the make-up of the Committee.
“The Committee is what it is,” he commented.
“How it engages with the stakeholders is the next important issue. We have a very substantial submission with the Committee, so we look forward to talking to them about that. It is about engagement now.”
Also answering questions from MI, Dr Ryan was supportive of the work of the Committee. “This won’t be cheap and it won’t be fixed overnight,” said Dr Ryan about the long-term planning and investment needed.
“We need some long-term planning. It is difficult to criticise the composition of the Committee when it’s well on in its work at this stage. Maybe it’s already halfway through its work.”