The IMO has labelled Budget 2024 a “missed opportunity” for healthcare, while the IHCA has expressed concern that it has not provided sufficient capital funding.
As part of the Budget announcements today (10 October), it was declared the health service is to receive an additional €800 million in core funding next year.
However, the amount for new measures has reduced, falling from €250 million in Budget 2023 to €100 million for 2024.
According to the IMO, the core funding increase is unlikely to maintain additional services and will not meet increased demand from a rapidly growing and ageing population.
“Our health services never recovered sufficiently from years of austerity and today’s Budget measures will mean we face the ongoing challenge of trying to deliver care to patients in a service that has insufficient capacity,” the Organisation said in a statement.
“Before the Budget, the IMO warned that radical and sustainable investment was the only viable option for a health system that has been chronically under-funded and under-resourced to meet the needs of patients. It is disingenuous to talk of overspends in healthcare when we consistently fail to provide for the needs of patients.”
Meanwhile, the IHCA stated Budget 2024 has not provided the necessary capital funding to build and open the additional acute hospital beds and theatre capacity in our public hospitals already announced by the Minister for Health.
Prof Robert Landers, President of the IHCA, said: “Regrettably Budget 2024 will not adequately address the overwhelming capacity deficits in our acute hospital and mental health services, especially the severe shortage of public hospital beds, theatres, and other frontline facilities, which are urgently needed to provide timely, safe care to patients.
The Association had estimated that €4 billion could be required for the four elective hospitals, six surgical hubs, and the 1,500 rapid build public hospital beds that Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly promised to open across 15 acute public hospital sites in 2023 and 2024.
Instead, it stated Budget 2024 has allocated €1.23 billion in capital funding for health next year, which is just €54 million more than the original allocation in 2023.
IHCA President Prof Robert Landers said: “Regrettably Budget 2024 will not adequately address the overwhelming capacity deficits in our acute hospital and mental health services, especially the severe shortage of public hospital beds, theatres, and other frontline facilities, which are urgently needed to provide timely, safe care to patients.”
“The four new elective hospitals have been promised since Sláintecare in 2017 but have not been opened or advanced as expected. In addition, the six surgical hubs proposed in December 2022 remain as far away as ever, and the 1,500 rapid build hospital beds announced by the Minister in April are nowhere to be seen.
“Without the required funding to rapidly address the fundamental shortage of acute hospital beds, theatre capacity and other facilities the challenges in delivering timely care will continue to escalate.”