- Political consensus on a single tiered health service represents historic development
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) welcomes the publication, by the Special Oireachtas Committee, today of a special report on the Future of Healthcare in Ireland (Sláintecare Report).
The publication of this report represents a historic milestone, in relation to healthcare in Ireland, as it is the first time there has been political consensus about the shape and form of our public health service. In particular the acceptance that need should be the sole determinant of access, to care, and not ability to pay is most welcome, right and proper.
The committee, in formulating the report, has correctly identified the need to shift the vast majority of healthcare, out of the hospital system, into community/primary care services. This shift is absolutely central to the development of a public health service where the patient/client receives the care they require, from the professional they need, close to their home.
In order to facilitate this increased access to care the report is also correct in highlighting the need to significantly increase the capacity of the health service, both in terms of capital and human resources, through earmarked funding, in the coming years. This will require the current recruitment and retention difficulties, with regard to Nurses and Midwives, being addressed as an immediate priority.
The INMO also welcomes the recommendations in the report to;
- establish a National Health Fund (NHF) to ensure the protection of funding for the public health service;
- ensure all health professionals and staff are fully utilised in the delivery of care;
- focus upon, and highlight, the need for integrated care to be the central requirement of all decision making; and
- identify the need to provide earmarked (and increased) funding, for Disability and Mental health Services, over the next 5 years.
In this regard, and following initial consideration of the report, the INMO would have continuing concerns with regard to the level of additional funding, outlined, to allow the public health service grow, in terms of capital infrastructure and staff, to meet the challenges that will arise from demographic and other factors.
However the key question now, in the context of the consensus for a single tiered public health service accessible to all, will be whether future governments, in each and every Programme for Government, commits to implementing the recommendations, of this report, over the next 10 years.
The report must act as a catalyst, and foundation, for continuous implementation, within the timelines identified, in the years ahead. In implementing the report, and allocating the resources necessary, all future governments must highlight the benefits, to all sectors of society, and the economy, from a world class accessible and equitable public health service.
The INMO Executive Council, at its meeting on the 12th/13th June, will consider this major report, in detail, and will engage with all political parties seeking assurances that they will move to implement same if/when they are in government.
Speaking this afternoon INMO Deputy General Secretary, David Hughes, said;
“This report which, for the first time in this country, confirms political consensus, about a single tiered public health service, is very welcome and, indeed, historic. The report correctly identifies that if we are to improve access, for every citizen, then we must, dramatically, increase the physical and staffing resources available to our ‘new’ public health service.
The question of the funding allocated, in the report, requires closer examination to ensure that, both in terms of current and capital spending, it provides the necessary resources to address the serious shortcomings, which currently exist, within our underfunded public health service.
The INMO has sought, for many years, for acceptance, at political level, that a single tiered public health service, adequately resourced, is an essential social good. The publication, today, of this critically important report represents a significant step in realising this objective.
All future governments must work, without exception, to implement this report, and create a single tiered world class public health service for all”.