Digital Desk Staff
Doctors are seeking a doubling of critical care beds in hospitals, claiming decades of underinvestment had left the health service on the brink of collapse during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the Irish Examiner reports, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said next month’s budget must mark the start of an era of substantial and ongoing funding for health services.
According to the President of the IMO, Dr Ina Kelly, the goal must be to build up the health service so it will never again be as vulnerable in the face of a national emergency.
The health services are facing challenges “across the board" and significant investment in medical manpower, bed capacity, general practice, and mental health service is needed, Dr Kelly said.
While the services have received substantial financial support during the pandemic, the need for such support was largely due to decades of underinvestment, she added.
“The fragility of our health services was exposed during the pandemic and had it not been for exceptional efforts of doctors, and other professionals across the country and huge temporary financial support, the services may have collapsed entirely,” Dr Kelly said.
As it is, the services have been severely weakened and patients are being forced on to ever-lengthening waiting lists which should shame a leading EU State.
The IMO budget submission has identified key areas for investment, pinpointing the need to recruit more medical manpower, with over 700 consultant positions currently unfilled on a permanent basis.
To do this, the organisation wants an immediate reversal of the “discriminatory” 30 per cent pay cut imposed on new consultants to the HSE since 2012, and a new “fit for purpose” consultant contracts.
On acute bed capacity and diagnostic infrastructure, the IMO is calling for a multi-annual programme of investment, which would include 5,000 additional public acute beds, including a doubling of critical care capacity to 550 critical care beds in the hospital system.
The organisation is also calling for diagnostic, radiology, and laboratory requirements to be adequately resourced.
An investment in general practice and the shift of care to the community would include supports for general practice to employ additional staff, incentives to invest in the development of infrastructure, and supports to allow new practices to remain financially viable, the IMO says.