IMO's George McNeice hits out at Govt failure on health reform

Friday 13 April 2012 23.44
Delegates attend Irish Medical Organisation conference
Delegates attend Irish Medical Organisation conference

The Irish Medical Organisation has said doctors are struck with ''concern and despair'' over the failure of the Government to deliver promised health reform.

In his keynote address, Chief Executive George McNeice told the organisation's annual conference that doctors had been optimistic that the new Government would be bolder in its thinking and respect doctors.

He said little had changed and that reforms had become bogged down in the carpets of the Department of Health.

Mr McNeice warned against importing the Dutch model of universal health insurance, or viewing a proposed new grade of hospital doctor as a ''silver bullet'' to deal with the shortage of consultants.

He said a Government is elected to solve problems, not hide behind them.

Mr McNeice also accused the Health Service Executive of relentless spinning and criticism against consultants by the HSE over the public private mix.

Health cuts are also on the agenda.

In a series of motions, doctors say they want to see a White Paper on universal health insurance, which will see core services provided to patients.

The Irish Medical Organisation says any new system must protect the clinical independence of doctors from interference from third parties, such as health insurance firms.

The conference will also hear opposition to Health Minister James Reilly's plan to introduce a new sub-consultant grade of hospital doctor, described in one motion as "foolish".

The organisation argues that the priority in tackling staff shortages should be the recruitment of extra consultants and retention of existing staff.

It warns that a sub-consultant grade could see private patients being treated by a consultant, while public patients would often be treated by a different grade of doctor.

However, a spokesperson for the minister has insisted that the new grade of doctor will be at consultant status.

With €750m to be taken out of the health system this year, the conference will also debate a motion calling on Dr Reilly to recognise that the Health Service Executive's service plan for 2012 cannot be delivered.

The minister will address the conference tomorrow evening.

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