Sláintecare plan in jeopardy

 

Sir, – Minister for Health Simon Harris, in his interview with Martin Wall (December 30th), correctly identifies a lack of bed capacity, combined with a failure to retain and recruit front-line staff, as major causes of dysfunction in our health service.

These deficiencies have been widely known for many years and are highlighted again in the Sláintecare report.

The report also identifies that the two-tier structure of delivering care in our public hospitals is an impediment to delivering care based on need rather than the ability to pay, and that primary care services should be developed and enhanced to provide efficient health care in general practice and community-based services.

The leisurely response of Government to Sláintecare is puzzling given the urgent need for action, considering that there is no opposition politically, managerially or clinically to its recommendations.

The main impediment is cost.

The truth is there will be a cost but the cost of doing nothing will be far greater both financially and in human suffering as time passes. Structural reform underpinned by legislation is essential if money is to be spent efficiently and wisely.

How and where scarce resources are spent is more important than the total cost to the State.

The Minister singles out GPs for criticism concerning fees while failing to acknowledge that successive Government policies, including the disproportionate application of Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Fempi) legislation, have undermined the viability and sustainability of general practice.

Expanding eligibility to free or low-cost GP services before restoring general practice viability and increasing GP manpower will undermine one of the essential pillars of Sláintecare, thus placing the entire reform programme in jeopardy. – Yours, etc,

Dr MICHAEL HARTY TD,

Chairman of the Joint

Oireachtas Health

Committee,

Kilmihil,

Co Clare.