HSE service plan an “austerity charter” - IMO

IMO president says €619 in savings ‘promises chaos’ in health services in 2014

The IMO described the HSE’s reversal on the level of savings to be made under medical card probity tests from €113 million to €23 million as a “u-turn” which “undermines the HSE’s credibility on financial issues”.

The IMO described the HSE’s reversal on the level of savings to be made under medical card probity tests from €113 million to €23 million as a “u-turn” which “undermines the HSE’s credibility on financial issues”.

 

The HSE service plan for 2014 has been described as an “austerity charter” by the Irish Medical Organisation which says the proposed budget is not adequate to provide necessary levels of care.

Commenting on this morning’s announcements the president of the IMO, Dr Matthew Sadlier, said that “targeting savings of over €600 million...at a time when the health services have consistently failed to live within bigger budgets promises chaos in the health services through 2014”.

“There is little doubt that we are facing into a new year with a budget for our health services that we all know is simply not adequate to provide the level of care necessary,” he said.

The IMO described the HSE’s reversal on the level of savings to be made under medical card probity tests from €113 million to €23 million as a “u-turn” which “undermines the HSE’s credibility on financial issues”.

It added that the HSE was “wrong to persist with plans to extend GP visit cards to all children under six at the same time as they are recalling them from older people who have depended on them for years”.

It is a position reflected by the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) which said its members believed that cutbacks to the medical scheme, which it said would hurt the most vulnerable in society, were “intrinsically linked” to the cost of providing free GP visits for Children aged five and under.

It said the €37 million earmarked for free GP care for under-sixes was “was in no way adequate” for the scheme: “If the 280,000 children under six who do not have a medical card are given one, then there will be a huge increase in visits to GPs - thereby increasing the average workload of GPs - other patients will, of necessity - have to lose out or wait,” NAGP chairman Dr Andrew Jordan said.

“If the GP service is overwhelmed, it will have a serious follow-on impact on the rest of the health service with disastrous results.”

Meanwhile groups representing the elderly gave a mixed reaction to the announcement of the movement of €23 million from the Fair Deal scheme into home-based support services for older people.

Age Action welcomed the HSE’s plans to develop community based services and supports but said it was “extremely concerned that the switch in some of the funding from nursing home supports to community supports...will be insufficient to meet the needs of the sickest of older people”.

Spokesman Eamon Timmins said the organisation feared that community-based supports will face even greater pressure as a result of this plan while older people whose needs were not met in the community will be admitted to acute hospitals and others “will be left struggling at home on ever-lengthening waiting lists for a nursing home bed”.

CEO of Alone, Seán Moynihan said it welcomed the commitment from the HSE to realign the model of care to focus on the development of home care and community services but said the €23 million allocation was “inadequate”, adding that it “will only go to making a dent in the cuts that have impacted on home care in recent years”.

Meanwhile Nursing Home Ireland described as “illogical and short-sighted” funding cuts which will see 939 fewer persons receiving funding for nursing home care under the scheme in 2014.

CEO of the organisation, Tadhg Daly “such a drastic cut to the scheme that enables older people avail of the specialist care of nursing homes is very difficult to countenance”: “Today’s cut will undoubtedly result in longer waiting times for Fair Deal and our concern is average waiting times will be a number of months,” he added.

Meanwhile the Irish Cancer Society has expressed disappointment that the BreastCheck screening programme will not now be extended to women aged between 65 and 69 in 2014.

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