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As ever, there will be a wide range of motions on all aspects of the health service debated at this year’s IMO AGM.
A notable group of motions reflect the dissatisfaction some doctors have with the Medical Council, particularly with regards to funding. One of these motions, proposed by the NCHD Committee, condemns the increases in Council registration fees and calls on the Council to listen to and co-operate with the IMO in relation to fee levels. Additionally, the motion calls on the Council to honour commitments made to the IMO in July 2015, when it was agreed that there would be no further fee increases for three years. It was also agreed to commence talks on matters such as ability to pay.
Another Council-related motion, proposed by Dr Kevin Kilbride, calls on the Government to end the “anomaly” where the Council is funded by registration fees of doctors despite no longer being a self-regulatory body and instead provide funding for the Council from general taxation.
A third motion relating to the Council, which is proposed by Dr Henry Finnegan, calls on it to engage with the IMO in relation to determining conditions whereby fourth-year GP registrars can do paid locum work in general practice outside of their training practices.
Many of the motions this year relate to the state of the health service and recommendations to improve the current structures. The first motion to be discussed at this year’s AGM, which is proposed by the IMO Council, calls on the incoming Government to acknowledge that public health services are not capable of meeting patient demand and that the provision of quality health services to our citizens is the priority issue for Government.
“In this context the IMO is calling for the Departments of Health and Public Expenditure and Reform to commit to a five-year investment programme for our health services to redress the effects of the short sighted economic measures of recent years that has resulted in damaging the fabric of our health services to the extent that we are continuing to work at dangerous capacity levels, there are ongoing reductions in services to patients and we are effectively forcing our medical professionals to leave Ireland and work abroad,” according to the motion.
Meanwhile, another motion calls for a screening service for atrial fibrillation while another demands that the HSE and Department of Health recognise that the current rehabilitative services for those suffering from acquired brain injuries are inadequate to meet the level of demand. Other motions focus on emergency departments, mental health services, and primary care.
A number of motions to be debated at the AGM concern the issue of data protection and technology. One of these motions calls on the Data Protection Commissioner to work with the HSE’s Chief Information Officer and with competent authorities for data protection in Europe to ensure that electronic health records and critical IT infrastructure in healthcare are adequately protected from cyber attacks.
Another motion calls on the postgraduate training bodies to ensure that data protection issues and the use of new health technologies are included in mandatory CME/CPD programmes, while a motion proposed by the IMO International Affairs Committee calls on the Minister for Health to ensure that medical apps used in clinical practice for the treatment of patients are subject to regulatory control in the same way as medical devices.
A motion proposed by the IMO Consultants Committee calls on the HSE and the Minister for Health to recognise that the IT systems in the Irish health services are not fit for purpose and are in need of an urgent strategic review in terms of best practice, value for money and quality.
The NCHD Committee has proposed a motion calling on the HSE to produce clear evidence-based guidelines regarding duties for doctors who are pregnant. There is also a motion calling on the Departments of Health, Education, and Finance to consider and make recommendations in respect of the high cost of graduate entry medical programmes.