Tuesday 23 January 2018

Fury over absence of plans for health

Nurses Aoife Kiernan and Bose Allen at the INMO conference in The Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney, yesterday Photo: Don MacMonagle
Nurses Aoife Kiernan and Bose Allen at the INMO conference in The Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney, yesterday Photo: Don MacMonagle

Eilish O'Regan and Majella O'Sullivan

The €15m reserved to tackle hospital waiting lists in the Fianna Fáil/ Fine Gael agreement has been dismissed as "paltry" by doctors.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said it "does nothing more than prop up the two-tier health system."

It plans to use this public funding to buy services in private hospitals through the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Waiting lists for surgery and outpatient appointments have soared since the beginning of the year due to the trolley crisis with almost 500,000 facing delays.

The doctors were particularly incensed that the document did not even allocate health its own section.

They said the few commitments in the area of health were "scattered piecemeal" throughout under the other headings of economy, crime, pay and water.

In particular, the crucial area of mental health is slotted into the crime and community services section.

And the pledge to provide multi-annual funding for the health service, to allow more forward planning, is relegated to the portion dealing with the economy.

"Its call for realistic five-year projections on health spending by the HSE is almost laughable given the failure in annual projections so far," said the medics.

While the document continues to pledge a generous approach to people needing discretionary medical cards it lacks any reference to the importance of supporting family doctors.

Meanwhile, the HSE said yesterday that the €10m pre-election deal with nurses to avert strike action will contribute to its end-of-year deficit.

A spokesman for Health Minister Leo Varadkar said the HSE was allocated a budget of €13.175bn for 2016 and the agreement was concluded on the basis that the HSE would meet the costs from within that budget."

Meanwhile, delegates who gathered in Killarney for the annual meeting of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) were told by general secretary Liam Doran that the agreement document was minimalist and inadequate.

"We had days and weeks of talks about water charges but while they were having these discussions there were 400 people on trolleys and it didn't seem to measure on their Richter scale."

The nurses' union wants restoration of the 16pc cuts to pay and the reduction of the 39 hour. They also want improved incentives to attract nurses to jobs here.

Irish Independent

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