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Mixed views on Sláintecare expressed at IHCA AGM

Political speakers who addressed the AGM including Deputy Dr Michael Harty (Independent), Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Deputy Stephen Donnelly, Sinn Féin’s Health Spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly, and Fine Gael Deputy Hildegarde Naughton all spoke in favour of Sláintecare.

However, answering questions from the Medical Independent (MI), IHCA Secretary General Mr Martin Varley said he believes “it’s going to be very difficult to implement  Sláintecare. I think the costings were not done properly on day one. I have very serious doubts that the State will actually put the funding in place that is required for Sláintecare.”

Asked by MI whether he believed that Sláintecare was a distraction or a document with no future, Mr Varley said: “I’m not getting into being  overly-critical of the intentions of Sláintecare; I think people were well-intentioned.

“We need the capacity; we need the beds. The National Development Plan is good in that regard. Sláintecare did, in a limited sense, recognise there was a capacity problem, but left it to the capacity review. It didn’t really deal with the core issue.

“You sit down with a committee for a year-and-a-half and we don’t deal with the core issue of capacity.”

However, Dr Harty in his remarks to the AGM said “if we don’t start implementing Sláintecare now, we will be here in 10 years discussing the same issues again… it’s the only game in town.”

In his remarks, Deputy Donnelly stressed the need for support from doctors for the plan, which he thinks is  currently lacking. He left open the possibility of changing Sláintecare somewhat to get doctors to “buy into it”.

Deputy O’Reilly said she was a “socialist” and spoke in favour of the one-tier public health system envisioned in Sláintecare. She also said she supported consultants in their fight for “equal pay for equal work” and said the pay discrimination against new-entrant consultants had to end.

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