Blaming doctors for political decisions

 

Sir, – I was disappointed to hear the Taoiseach say that despite more doctors working in Ireland there has been no corresponding increase in activity (“Doctors’ pay to absorb ‘big chunk’ of extra ¤1 billion for health”, Dáil Report, October 23rd).

This is at odds with what the Department of Health has published in the Health in Ireland Key Trends 2017 report, which noted emergency department attendances were up 5.1 per cent, there was increased surgical day case work (up in excess of 70 per cent over 10 years), and that out-patient assessments reached 3.3 million annually (up approximately 1 per cent in a single year).

There has been a 12.6 per cent reduction in acute hospital beds (a political decision) between 2007 and 2016, with the result that waiting lists are extending and overcrowding of hospitals increasing, and yet in-patient discharges annually are in excess of 635,000, which is an increase of 7 per cent over 10 years.

Subjecting consultants appointed since 2012 to a pay cut three times that of any other public sector worker is the cause of 463 unfilled senior hospital specialist positions in Ireland.

Paying people doing the same job significantly less than their colleagues who were appointed prior to 2012 has devalued the work of those individuals and has had a very negative impact on doctors at what should be among the most productive years of their careers.

Rolling theatre closures; closed beds and wards; insufficient hospital, rehabilitation and intensive-care beds, with 20 per cent of hospital beds occupied by patients who could receive their care in alternate settings; daily postponements of operating lists; ageing equipment; as well as insufficient consultants in Ireland, all contribute to less activity than might otherwise be achieved.

Politicians called for the 30 per cent cut; it is they who are responsible for the consequences of their decision and they who can deliver the solution. – Yours, etc,

PEADAR GILLIGAN,

President,

Irish Medical Organisation,

Dublin 2.