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Launching its 2016 pre-budget submission today, the IHCA detailed the areas it believes should be addressed once and for all by the State in the upcoming Budget. The Association stated that, without sufficient funding for acute hospital and mental health services, consultants simply do not have the resources to provide high quality safe healthcare services that Ireland’s patients need and deserve.
Commenting on its pre-budget submission, Dr Gerard Crotty, President of the IHCA, said:
“Make no mistake about it – Ireland’s acute health services will not be capable of delivering high quality safe care to patients unless substantially increased resources are provided without further delay. In recent weeks there were headlines when a number of 100 year old patients spent over 24 hours on trolleys while awaiting admission for essential and urgent inpatient treatment. There are significantly more patients awaiting care today than this time last year. As we approach the 1916 Centenary, is this the best that we can do after one hundred years?”
“The Minister for Health has acknowledged that the lack of funding and capacity is causing serious problems. It is time to properly address the crisis once and for all. While we understand that other government departments will be seeking additional funds – surely the delivery of timely, high quality safe care to patients needs to be prioritised.”
The IHCA asserts that it is not possible for hospital and mental health services to cut spending to stay within unrealistic annual budget limits without extremely adverse consequences which jeopardise the safety and quality of care that can be provided to patients.
Its pre-budget submission outlines that substantially increased frontline resources must be provided to ensure waiting lists and delays in treatment are significantly reduced for patients. Increased bed and theatre capacity must be made available urgently to address the delays in providing care.
In addition, the Association strongly recommended that the consultant recruitment and retention crisis is resolved by the State fully reversing the 2012 “unilateral 30 per cent salary cut to ensure parity for new entrant consultants as a matter of urgency”. The IHCA has stressed that the terms of the 2008 Consultant Contract must be honoured to restore trust and ensure that Ireland regains its competitiveness in recruiting consultants.
Other recommendations focus on the issue of clinical indemnity and recommended that the Oireachtas reforms the law in this area by expediting the implementation of the recommendations of the High Court Working Group on Medical Negligence.
Other key statistics in the Pre-Budget submission include:
7,775 patients were treated on trolleys while awaiting an inpatient bed in June 2015. This was 50 per cent above the June 2014 figure and more than double the 2006 figure, when the then Minister for Health had declared the crisis ‘a national emergency’.
The cost of clinical indemnity has doubled for certain specialties in the past two years. According to the IHCA, these substantially increased indemnity charges have become increasingly unaffordable in the light of cuts in health insurer procedure fees of 20 per cent or more since 2008. There is a concern that, if private Consultants close their practices, more patients will be forced to seek surgical and medical care in public hospitals which are struggling to cope with existing demand, said the body.