Doctors seek investment of ‘historic proportions’ after Covid-19 crisis

IMO services must never again be left so underfunded and under-staffed

IMO president Dr Padraig McGarry: “we must never again allow our health services to be so underfunded and understaffed”. File photograph: Getty Images

IMO president Dr Padraig McGarry: “we must never again allow our health services to be so underfunded and understaffed”. File photograph: Getty Images

 

Doctors have called for an investment programme “of historic proportions” in the country’s health service on foot of the current Covid-19 crisis.

In a speech to mark what would have been the opening of the annual conference of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) this weekend its president Dr Padraig McGarry said “we must never again allow our health services to be so underfunded and understaffed”.

The IMO’s annual gathering, like all of the other traditional post -Easter public service union conferences, was called off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In his address on Friday, Dr McGarry said the fragility of the country’s health services was being exposed as never before due to the current crisis. “We have over 1,100 newly qualified doctors coming into our health services in the next few weeks. We welcome our new colleagues and assure them of the support of all experienced doctors to help them through what will be a particularly challenging start to their careers in medicine.”

However Dr McGarry said the simple fact was that the country had far too few doctors right across the system, in hospitals, in general practice and in public health.

“It is not enough to thank people for their efforts, Government must actually support a proactive recruitment programme and financially support a fast track programme for additional beds and services. The women and men of our health system have risen to the challenges that Covid-19 has presented. We continue to work to care for our patients but we need to see ongoing support from the Government.”

The IMO, Dr McGarry said, would seek to negotiate with any incoming Government “on the scale and focus of a badly needed investment programme for the health services”. He said priorities for the IMO would include:

- Increasing the capacity of the public hospitals.

- Investment to recruit and retain doctors to work in the health service here, including targeted measures to address our unprecedented number of consultant vacancies.

- Investment programme for general practice which has proven its pivotal position in the frontline of the public health response to Covid-19.

- Investing in and supporting our public health doctors and recognising their invaluable contribution to national health policy and the well-being of the nation.

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