Sláintecare targets 'decades away' says consultant group at plan's halfway point

Monday, May 30th is the halfway point in the 10-year Sláintecare plan
Sláintecare targets 'decades away' says consultant group at plan's halfway point

Muireann Duffy

Despite the passing of five of the 10 years covered by the Sláintecare plan, its targets remain "decades away from being a reality", the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has said.

Monday, May 30th marks the halfway point in the plan to deliver universal health and tackle major issues in the health system, including hospital overcrowding and long waiting lists.

Since the publication of the Sláintecare report in May 2017, the number of people on some form of National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) waiting list has increased by 54 per cent to 898,000.

"The reality is that Sláintecare waiting list targets are not achievable because public hospitals have a severe shortage of consultants, theatres, acute beds, diagnostic and other facilities," IHCA president, Professor Alan Irvine said.

"In fact, the targets that no-one should wait more than 12 weeks for an inpatient procedure, 10 weeks for an outpatient appointment and 10 days for a diagnostic test are unlikely to be met within the lifetime of the plan," he added.

The IHCA said it is "imperative" that the 838 vacant consultant posts in the State are filled if record public hospital waiting lists are to be addressed.

Prof Irvine stressed that consultant contract talks must restart immediately if the matter is to be addressed, with the aim of improving Ireland's competitiveness to recruit and retain medics to "resolve the decade long deficits in consultant staffing".

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