There were/are high expectations of some reform in our helathcare system from our present government. Rome wasn't built in a day, reform measures can be slow.
FG/Lab pledged to reduce the pay of both GPs and hospital consultants. Free GP care for all within the term of office of the new Government was promised, with insurance for universal hospital cover introduced by 2016. Both parties had promised universal health insurance in their manifestos.
As promised by Fine Gael the HSE will cease to exist eventually as its functions are given to the Health Minister and the new universal insurance system.
So, how are promised reforms panning out? The Sunday Business Post has a very informative piece on reform (or lack of it) within our healthcare system. Turns out that Roisin Shorthall promised 56,000 patients with long-term illness (like CF or MS) that they would receive medical cards from last March. Yep, the're still waiting. The IMO (which represents GP's) has had to date no discussions regarding this proposal. This may take some time.
The SBP article believes that a failure of government to follow through on a promise to bolster HSE finances by 250 million in 2012 has contributed to the HSE overrun. Minister Reilly pledged to abolish the existing system of designated private-public beds in public hospitals. This would allow public hospitals to charge all private patients in their hospitals. This was expected to save about 145 million. Unfortunately, it's now looking like the government is going to u-turn on this policy.
As for the promise to tackle hospital consultant pay, well, that was reneged on long and ever ago. The remuneration of GP's was also to be cut by this government. Again, talks with the IMO have yet to begin. Minister Reilly emotionally told the Dail last week that he believed too many older people were in long term care when they could be better supported in their home. Yet he has approved the HSE service plan which reduced the spend on home-help hours. The Special Delivery Unit has reduced trolley waits in A/E. This has had a knock on effect in other areas. Thousands more patients are waiting longer for hospital procedures. This is a serious development.
And the HSE. Setting it up in 2004 was a bold move. I have seen great improvements in helathcare over the last number of years. Has this move contributed to these improvements? Far less waste, higher standards of care. The establishment of the HSE took power away from the health boards which were full of political appointments and perhaps cronyism. So, are we heading back in that direction?
What has prevented this government from making progress on many promises? What' s the plan boys and girls? There is one, isn't there?