11th July 2023
Budget 2024 must provide sufficient funding for credible, time-bound plans to rapidly increase acute hospital capacity as one fifth of the population on some form of hospital waiting list – IHCA Previously announced plans for 1,500 rapid build acute hospital beds, six surgical hubs and four new elective hospitals will require over €4bn in capital funding yet to be allocated; 5,000 additional public hospital beds should be funded by the end of 2030 – or 700 extra hospital beds each year for the next seven years; Government must urgently fill the record 930 permanent Consultant posts currently not filled as needed and also appoint 2,000 additional Consultants by 2030 – or an extra 300 annually; More than 1.1 million people on waiting lists for hospital care, with number set to increase in 2024 if the capacity is not urgently expanded; Seven in 10 Consultants experienced symptoms of burnout in the past 12 months due to workload pressure; while hundreds of specialists emigrate to work abroad; IHCA President Prof Rob Landers: “Successive health budgets have failed to address the root causes of the rationing of care to patients and unacceptable public hospital waiting lists, caused by significant hospital capacity deficits and shortfalls in Consultant staffing, both of which are having a detrimental impact on patients and healthcare staff alike.” The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has called on the Government to commit the estimated €4 billion in capital funding needed to build and open essential hospital improvements already announced by the Minister for Health that promises to significantly increase the number of acute hospital beds and theatre capacity in our public hospitals.
29th August 2022
Over six million people received care in the public hospital system last year by a Consultant, with 907,617 people still waiting to be seen; IHCA says if Budget 2023 does not provide sufficient resources and deliver them in full, it could take some 15 years to clear backlog of deferred care. Meanwhile, hospital Consultant vacancies at an all-time high of 882 permanent posts not filled as needed; At least 300 hospital beds not delivered under previous Budget, leaving people waiting longer for critical procedures and treatment; an estimated 5,000 additional beds are required by 2030. IHCA President, Professor Alan Irvine: “Motivation to fix the problems in Ireland’s health system is waning, at a time when energy should be firmly behind implementing the solutions, which frontline hospital staff have repeatedly called for over the years. Our ask of the Government for Budget 2023 therefore is simple: deliver it. Give us the essential resources, the capacity and the Consultants to treat our patients on time.” Speaking today (Monday 29 August 2022) at the publication of its pre-Budget submission, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said that the frontline knowledge and operational learnings from the Covid crisis are not being capitalised upon, while the extreme shortage of hospital Consultants and beds mean rising patient waiting lists will continue. Publishing analysis today, the IHCA highlighted that the consistent failure to deliver on plans, budgets and Ministerial promises is leading to the continued exodus of medical and surgical talent abroad and increased waiting times, with over 907,000 people now on some form of hospital waiting list across Ireland. These numbers come at a time when more than 880 permanent hospital Consultant posts are not filled as needed. The IHCA has previously pointed to the false economy created by the unilateral pay cut imposed by Government on Consultants appointed after 2012. They say that this discrimination, coupled with capacity and investment deficits in the system, has created unattractive working conditions and led to a recruitment crisis resulting in delayed care, poorer patient outcomes, and hundreds of millions in increased State compensation payments for clinical claims and higher agency/locum costs to partially fill vacant Consultant posts. On beds, the IHCA pointed to promises to add an additional 1,146 beds by the end of last year have also fallen short, with an estimated 317 of these beds yet to materialise. In addition, an estimated 5,000 additional beds will be required by 2030 to provide timely care. Some Consultants have pointed to what these serious capacity deficits mean for their ability to deliver critical services. Citing examples, of the adverse effect of vacant Consultant posts on patients, such as South Kerry CAMHs services and in hospitals throughout the country. The IHCA highlighted how one Surgical Oncologist was appointed without access to an operating list or outpatient clinic for almost a year; while theatre capacity for a number of surgeons in another hospital was reduced to 50% compared to pre-Covid levels and has not been restored yet. The Association projects that even with increased hospital activity compared with pre-pandemic levels, it may still take some 15 years to clear the backlog of deferred care built up during the pandemic. Commenting, IHCA President, Professor Alan Irvine said: “Over six million people were provided with medical and surgical care in our public hospital system last year by hospital Consultants – we are stretched like never before. Despite the immense pressures placed on those on the frontline at the height of Covid, there was a semblance of hope that its impact would be a catalyst to finally tackle the obvious problems. “Instead, motivation to fix the problems in Ireland’s health system is waning, at a time when energy should be firmly behind implementing the solutions. “A year’s worth of time and momentum has been lost, resulting in worsening patient waiting times. “We know what the problems are and we know what is required to fix them – we can indeed fix them. But we need the beds and the Consultants to treat the patients in a timely manner. There is nothing new here. We all know what is necessary. These core elements have been committed to in successive plans, budgets and Ministerial promises, but not delivered. The stressful, overstretched business-as-usual approach is not an option. It is time for the Government to stop expecting frontline medical and other staff and their patients to put up with unworkable conditions that don’t exist in public hospital services in developed countries. “Our ask of the Government for Budget 2023 therefore is simple: deliver it. Give us the essential resources, the capacity and the Consultants to treat our patients on time.” ENDS For media enquiries, contact 360, A FINN Partners Company: Gerard O’Shea | email@example.com | +353 (0)87 413 7471 Niamh Kinsella | firstname.lastname@example.org | +353 (0)87 921 9711
15th September 2021
Irish Hospital Consultants Association launches Pre-Budget Submission; Consultants say additional funding for Covid must be retained and redeployed as needed to fund significant deficits in acute public hospital care; Failure to set, resource and achieve more robust targets is leading to longer waiting lists, with over 290,000 people waiting longer than a year to be assessed or treated by a hospital consultant; 6,000 additional acute public hospital beds required under revised National Development Plan by 2030 – with half of these beds needed urgently within the next 3 years; Fill the 1 in 5 vacant permanent consultant posts without delay and appoint additional consultants to urgently assess and treat the 907,617 people on hospital waiting lists across the country. IHCA President, Professor Alan Irvine: “The 2022 Health Budget needs to ensure that public hospital and mental health services have sufficient levels of current and capital funding to provide timely, high-quality care to patients. There is a high risk, in the aftermath of the extraordinary challenges we have all experienced since March 2020, that accumulated stress, health and general wellbeing problems will adversely impact on healthcare staff - and ultimately our patients. The solutions are ‘hiding in plain sight’. The Government must embrace them and implement them, so that our public health service is fit for purpose for the patients of today and in the years to come.”
24th August 2021
Irish Hospital Consultants Association launches Mental Health Pre-Budget 2022 Submission; Consultants say Covid-19 pandemic has exposed decades-long deficits in the health service which are impacting on adult and children’s mental health services across the country; Government commits only 5.4% of health budget to mental health - half the level of European neighbours; Ireland has third lowest number of inpatient psychiatric care beds in EU; An immediate increase of at least 300 acute adult psychiatric inpatient beds is required to meet recommended levels; More than 1 in 5 approved Consultant Psychiatry posts currently vacant or filled on a temporary basis and must be filled urgently. Professor Anne Doherty, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist and Chair of the IHCA Psychiatry Committee: “The pandemic has completely exposed the cracks across our public hospital system, including in our mental health services. The combination of gaping mental health capacity deficits with significantly increased demand for treatment of mental illnesses impacted by Covid-19 is stretching our acute services to breaking point. It has focused our attention on the urgent need to dedicate specific funding and resources to mental health, anticipating the wider impact of the pandemic on our population.”
9th October 2018
9 October 2018 - The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has outlined its grave concern that the 2019 Health Budget is unlikely to address the serious capacity deficits that are delaying the provision of public hospital care to patients, unless urgent capacity needs in our acute hospitals are addressed. The Association outlined in great detail in its pre-budget submission to the Minister for Health and other government Ministers that underfunding of public hospitals has led to record numbers of patients on trolleys and on waiting lists.
14th September 2010
Click here to read the actual submissionClick here to view slide presentation
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