The IHCA has acknowledged the provisions in Budget 2023, but warned it does not address the public hospital capacity deficits that are “the root causes of the unacceptable public hospital waiting lists”.
Prof Robert Landers, IHCA President, said: “Budget 2023 fails to address the overwhelming capacity deficits including the severe shortage of Hospital Consultants, public hospital beds, theatre and other frontline facilities which are needed to provide timely, safe care to patients.
“The proposed funding for the health service in 2023 disappointingly does little to speed up the slow progress on removing barriers to essential care – be they financial, administrative or physical – meaning our patients once again lose out on the care they need now.
“The Government’s commitment to deliver just 250 additional acute and community beds in 2023 falls well short of what is needed to provide care to admitted patients who currently receive care on a hospital trolley as no bed is available and the large number of patients on public hospital waiting lists. There is also a major concern about the timely opening of these hospital beds, given the failure to deliver the additional 1,146 inpatient beds by the end of 2021 committed to two years ago in Budget 2021.
“The allocation of €443 million specifically to address waiting lists in 2023 shows the Government has run out of ideas when it comes to tackling the record public hospital waiting lists. The €350 million Waiting List Action Plan for 2022 has spectacularly failed to reach any of its targets of reducing waiting lists for outpatient appointments, inpatient and day case treatment, and GI (gastrointestinal) scopes despite the significant outlay. Funding should be provided to expand the capacity of public hospitals to ensure sustainable, workable solutions to waiting lists and trolley problems.
“Budget 2023 will do nothing to address the 900 permanent hospital Consultant posts (22% of the total) that are vacant or filled on a temporary basis. Filling these posts with permanent appointees is essential to effectively provide care to the nearly 1 million people currently on waiting lists, the growing delays in treatment and the resulting poorer patient outcomes.
“Budget 2023 fails to end the consultant pay inequity imposed unilaterally by the Minister for Health in 2012, despite the unambiguous commitment of the Minster Stephen Donnelly two years ago and the clear evidence that this is driving the highly trained specialists our public hospitals need to pursue their careers abroad. This requires agreement on a new contract with the Association and not unilateral Health Service Management decisions that prevent the recruitment and retention of the calibre and number of consultants our public hospitals need to provide timely, safe care to patients.
“Continuing the same mistakes year after year – with the same resulting impact on delayed treatment and increased risk to patient safety – is not the solution.”