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Senior civil servants should hear of health policies, IMO session hears

At the launch of the IMO’s new policy document 2020 Vision for Health, academic epidemiologist Prof Anthony Staines suggested from the floor that it was important to also engage with senior civil servants across departments.

Afterwards, speaking to the Medical Independent (MI), Prof Staines said outreach was “all about information”. He commented: “It is about giving people who are making decisions a bit more information to factor into their decisions.”

Prof Staines, whose background is in public health medicine, said this engagement should go beyond only the Department of Health, as health policy and delivery involved many departments.

Clearly, he said, the IMO is a trade union and the interests of the medical profession are “part of the agenda”. Nevertheless, the Organisation also sought to improve health equality and the health of the population, he noted.

Earlier, in response to Prof Staines’s suggestion, outgoing IMO President Prof Trevor Duffy said engaging senior civil servants across departments on the IMO’s perspective on health policies would be “a very good idea”. He said the IMO had contact with a number of departments, but perhaps a briefing session specifically to engage senior civil servants across departments should be explored. “I know there are restrictions on civil servants and how they can engage in things like this, but it is a very good idea.”

Prof Duffy noted in his address how the IMO had, over the past year, held morning briefing sessions for politicians in locations such as Buswell’s Hotel in Dublin, which is close to Dáil Éireann.

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