Thursday 22 August 2019

Committee mauls 'dysfunctional' health system

ICTU chief Patricia King. Photo: Damien Eagers
ICTU chief Patricia King. Photo: Damien Eagers
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The health service continues to be a "dysfunctional system" despite several plans to overhaul it in the past three decades, Patricia King, head of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said yesterday.

Speaking at the Committee on the Future of Healthcare, she said real change had not happened and perverse incentives remained that encouraged private over public practice.

"There is strong evidence of a developing and growing culture of restructuring fatigue," she said.

The all-party committee is charged with coming up with a 10-year plan for the health service to allow for consistent policy, regardless of the government in power.

Speaking to the committee, emergency medicine consultant Dr Peadar Gilligan of the Irish Medical Organisation said he had been witness to the "very real impact on patient care that cuts in health service funding have had, with patients more than 12 hours on trolleys".

There are about 12,800 acute beds within the hospital system, 800 fewer than in 2007. Of these, 10,800 are in-patient beds, 1,300 fewer than in 2007.

"Contrast those 10,800 in-patient beds with the 14,700 in-patient beds the Department of Health said back in 2003 that we would need by 2011," he said.

Liam Doran of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation also said additional acute beds in a number of locations across the country was an immediate requirement in the public health service.

"In essence, we have, currently, the perfect storm of too few acute beds to cater for demand, with wholly inadequate primary care services which might, if they were resourced, provide a viable alternative to hospital care," he said.

Irish Independent

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