Doctors For Universal Healthcare

 

Sir, – Doctors For Universal Healthcare is a coalition of doctors calling for the introduction of universal healthcare in Ireland. We believe that healthcare is a fundamental human right and that Ireland deserves a universal health system, where high-quality care is guaranteed to all who need it, when they need it, based on clinical need and not ability to pay.

Access to healthcare is deteriorating, with nearly one in five citizens now waiting for specialist appointments. General practice is in crisis, as GPs retire unreplaced and many towns face the prospect of no doctor at all. Younger doctors continue to work unsafe and illegal hours. Despite spending more on health than many nations, we have fewer hospital beds, ICU beds and specialist consultants than most European systems. We remain the only country in western Europe without universal access to primary care.

These issues are not new, and are inextricable from a political context in which healthcare is not regarded as a basic right.

Universal healthcare is supported by all major political parties and the vast majority of Irish people. However, the Sláintecare reforms have been distorted and delayed by political indecision. For many doctors, Sláintecare itself has been tainted by a needlessly negative ongoing contract dispute. This is regrettable, as many support Sláintecare’s guiding principles of universalism and resource allocation based on need.

Reform is not easy, but with resources, leadership and genuine engagement with those on the front-line, it can be done. As outlined by the De Buitléir Report, the extrication of the public and private sectors will take money and time. Sustained investment in public hospital capacity is needed to tackle waiting lists. Our surgeons need access to theatre space in the public system. Stabilising and then expanding access to primary care will require not only resources, but rebuilding of trust. Doctors and our representative bodies must be involved in the change process at all levels.

These are not just technical problems with technical solutions. Policy is guided by values. Values like community, solidarity and equity have guided us through this pandemic. As a growing coalition of doctors, we look to a future where a universal, publicly-funded system embodies these values and guarantees healthcare as a right of all people.

– Yours, etc,

Dr DOMHNALL MCGLACKEN-BYRNE, Dr CHRISTINE KELLY,

Prof CLÍONA NÍ CHEALLAIGH, Dr MARK MURPHY,

Dr LAURA O’DOHERTY, Prof SUSAN SMITH,

Dr EOIN MURPHY, Prof ANTHONY O’CONNOR,

Dr EAMONN FALLER,

And Dr Rita Doyle, Dr Mary Favier, Dr Gabriel Scally, Professor Anthony Staines, Professor Orla Hardiman, Dr Suzanne Crowe, Dr Nóirín Russell, Mr David Orr, Professor Liam Glynn, Dr Sarah Fitzgibbon, Dr Naveed Abbas, Dr Adrinda Affendi, Dr Taciane Alegra, Dr Saied Ali, Dr Laura Barry, Dr William Behan, Dr Paul Bergin, Dr Sinéad Birrane, Dr Sinéad Brannick, Dr Dorothy Breen, Dr David Brennan, Dr Mary Buckley, Dr Ruth Carey, Dr Stephen Carroll, Dr Marie Casey, Dr Michael Cash, Dr Eoin Cashman, Dr Kieran Clancy, Dr Ciara Conlan, Dr Stephen Connolly, Dr Aoife Corcoran, Dr Ellen Juliet Cosgrave, Dr Orla Cotter, Dr Hilary Coyle, Dr Ryan Crawford, Dr Laura Cullen, Dr Anne Dee, Dr Ross Dormer, Dr Joseph Doyle, Dr Eimear Duff, Dr Carol Duffy, Dr Claire Dunne, Dr Emma Dunne, Dr Patrick Earls, Dr Sara El Nimr, Dr Aisling Fanning, Dr Sinead Feeney, Dr Laura Fennelly, Dr Bridgid Ferriter, Dr Sarah Fitzgibbon, Dr John Flanagan, Dr Stephen Flannery, Dr Aoife Gallagher, Dr Seán Garvey, Dr Rosemary Gillan, Dr Tina Gillespie, Dr Mary Greaney, Dr Sieneke Hakvoort, Dr Mairead Hamill, Dr Douglas Hamilton, Dr Kieran Harkin, Dr Colm Harrington, Dr Áine Heaney, Dr Samuel Holt, Dr Fergal Howley, Dr Niamh Humphreys, Dr Ralph Hurley O’Dwyer, Dr Eleanor Irving, Dr Paul Kavanagh, Dr Grace Kavanagh, Dr Barbara Kearns, Dr Alexander Kelleher, Dr David Kelly, Dr Maureen Kelly, Dr Niamh Kennedy, Dr Susan Keogh, Dr Bridget Kiely, Dr Sarah Kyne, Dr Peter Lalor, Dr Tadg Lehane, Dr Marc Lincoln, Dr Catherine Lynch, Dr Aideen Madden, Dr Rónán Maher, Dr Eleanor Marks, Dr Kathleen McDonnell, Professor Noel McCarthy, Dr Jamie McGettigan, Dr Thomas McGimsey, Dr Edel McGinnity, Dr Sinéad McGlacken-Byrne, Dr Aisling McGlacken-Byrne, Dr Aimée McGreal-Bellone, Dr Maura McLoughlin, Dr Lisa McNamee, Dr Maeve Montague, Dr Sean Montague, Dr Connor Montgomery, Dr Amy Morgan, Dr Niamh Mulryan, Dr Hilary Mulvihill, Dr Aoife Murphy, Dr Geraldine Murphy, Dr Ellen Newman, Dr Mei Yee Ng, Dr Chantelle Ní Chróinín, Dr Caoimhe Ní hÉalaithe, Dr Martin Nolan, Dr Emer O’Brien, Dr Niamh O’Brien, Dr Seán O’Brien, Dr Nicola O’Callaghan, Dr Blathnaid O’Connell, Dr Ruairi O’Connor, Dr Dympna O’Dwyer, Dr Peadar Ó Fionnáin, Dr Darren O’Gorman, Dr Amelia O’Keeffe, Dr Conor O’Kelly, Dr Sarah O’Mahony, Dr Andrew O’Malley, Dr Máirtín Ó Maoláin, Dr Eleanor O’Neill, Dr Karen O’Neill, Dr Máire O’Neill, Dr Mark O’Rahelly, Dr Daniel O’Reilly, Dr Peter O’Reilly, Dr Ciarán Ó Riain, Professor Brendan O’Shea, Dr Aoife O’Sullivan, Dr Peter O’Sullivan, Dr Sinéad O’Sullivan, Dr Jonathan O’Toole, Dr Sean Owens, Dr Conor Palmer, Dr Ana Paula Panigassi, Dr Caleb Powell, Dr Shane Power, Dr Aidan Quinn, Dr Shóna Reynolds, Dr Alexander Robinson, Dr Ruth Roseingrave, Dr Emily Rutherford, Dr Bríd Shanahan, Dr Roger Smyth, Dr Anitha Sokay, Dr Eoin Somers, Dr David Stokes, Dr Roy Gavin Stone, Dr Ellen Sweeney, Dr Niamh Thompson, Dr James Trayer, Dr Roisin Tully, Dr Liqa Ur Rehman, Dr Jane Uygur, Dr Susie van Baarsel, Dr Áine Varley, Dr Kathleen Walsh, Dr Geraint Warlow, Dr Philippa White, Dr Maeve White, Dr Hye Won Yang