Taoiseach believes benefits of €15bn health spending not seen by patients

Varadkar believes people entitled to expect a better service says spokeswoman

 File Photograph: Alan Betson

File Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The full benefits of the €15 billion the Government will allocate to the health service this year are not being experienced by patients, a spokeswoman for the Taoiseach has said.

The spokeswoman said Leo Varadkar had said on many occasions that, based on the high levels of health spending per year, “people are entitled to expect a better service”.

She said health spending in Ireland was the fifth largest in the western world.

“The Government will spend over €15 billion of taxpayers’ money on our public health services this year, but the benefits of this level of spending are clearly not being felt to the fullest extent by patients.

“ Health spending per head in Ireland has been a head of the Western world average for 20 years now including during the recession. Frontline levels, while reduced during the recession, have been rising for three years now,” she said.

“Our emergency departments is one area of our heath service which is under pressure, particularly during the winter months, demonstrated by an increase in patients waiting for a bed on trolleys.”

The spokeswoman for the Taoiseach said it had become clear that some hospital groups were experiencing and managing these pressures better than others.

She said one group in particular, the RCSI group, had been reducing the number of people waiting on trolleys - based on both the counting system used by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisationand the HSE over a sustained period of time.

“On the basis of INMO figures, the RCSI Group is at a 12-year low in terms of patients waiting on trolleys. HSE ‘trolleygar’ figures also bear this out showing that the group has gone from the worst performer to the best over the course of the last 4 years. “

Hospital in the RCSI group include Beaumont, Connolly (Blanchardstown), Our Lady Lourdes (Drogheda) and Cavan.

In a statement issued after a meeting between the Taoiseach and the RCSI group management on Monday, Mr Varadkar’s spokeswoman said: “Like all hospitals, they face rising demand from a growing and aging population, recruitment challenges and increased attendance due to the fact that Monaghan and Dundalk (also in the RCSI Group) no longer have emergency departments.

“Nonetheless, the story is one of improvement and reduced overcrowding largely due to efficient use of extra resources led by management and clinicians. “

She said Mr Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris met the chief executive and chairman of the RCSI group of hospitals “to get a better understanding of how these reductions were achieved, the benefits of working as a group in achieving these reductions and whether these methods can be replicated in other hospital groups.”

“The Taoiseach wants to see best practice replicated and implemented across the health service,” she said.