Fianna Fail have set out their plans to solve the current health crisis if they are elected to government.
The strategy includes adding five million home-help hours, doubling the National Treatment Purchase Fund, adding 2,600 more hospital beds and hiring an extra 4,000 nursing staff over five years.
Stephen Donnelly, the party’s health spokesman and a former management consultant in the health sector, called the current state of the HSE “dysfunctional” and “failing”.
Mr Donnelly pointed to overlap in management structures for rising costs and said moving to a more regional-based structure under the Slaintecare model would go towards remedying the issue.
The party is in favour of moving to a universal healthcare system and says that although there “will always be private healthcare”, they want to phase out private healthcare in public hospitals.
“There’s two things we’ve got to do, of the 11 billion euro the Department of Finance are saying is available over the next Dail term, we’re allocating approximately two billion of that to health,” he said on Monday.
Here it is! @fiannafailparty Health Manifesto – our exact strategy to fix the Health Service.
An extra 5 million home help hours.
Double the NTPF fund to cut waiting times for patients.
2,600 more hospital beds.
Hire extra 4,000 nursing staff over 5 yrs https://t.co/BumqxeKPoN
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) January 20, 2020
“We are being very, very careful and prudent to make sure that the commitments that we make are costed, and they can actually be provided for.
“So, yes, spending has to go up. Even if our healthcare system was working really well, we have a huge demographic challenge which is we’re getting older, as a nation, and as we get older, healthcare costs simply go up.
“The other thing we have to do is make sure that the money we’re already spending is spent in the right ways.
“At the moment, there’s very poor understanding of how the money is spent in the system.
“So while this happened, the nurses and midwives went on strike, the ambulance drivers went on strike, the hospital support staff went on strike, the doctors have balloted to go on strike.
“Nothing like that has ever happened before and it’s time to turn that around. ”
Mr Donnelly added: “Before I ran for politics I was involved in fixing healthcare systems in other countries.
“One of the first things you would do if you’re looking at a system with multiple hospitals, is you’d say, what is the cost per night per hospital? When I submitted that question to Minister (Simon) Harris, he said: ‘No we don’t collect the data in that form’.
“So we’ve have to start bringing in financial discipline to say, we’re spending a vast amount of money, already 18.1 billion euro this year, how are we spending it?”
On the recruitment and rentention crisis facing the HSE, which staff and unions say is the cause of low morale within the organisation, Mr Donnelly says Ireland must attract those who have left to come home.
“The reality is, the HSE does not have a good reputation in terms of hiring,” he said.
“We’ve got to hold on to the people we have. We’ve also got to reach out around the world to Australia, to New Zealand, to America, to England, to Canada, to our amazing doctors, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, and say, ‘We need you to come home’.
“‘We will have the resources, we will deal with pay inequality, we will deal with the HR issues, please come home and work with us to make this a great place to be’.
“The reality is, over the last few years, the very opposite of that has been happening.”
The party says they will hire 800 to 1,000 consultants, but would not sign up to the recommendations set down Dr Donal de Buitleir, who chaired an expert group examining the removal of private practice from public hospitals – one of the key elements of the proposed Slaintecare reforms.
Dr de Buitleir said consultants should only see public patients in public hospitals.
Mr Donnelly added that the consultants “will be full-time, public sector consultants, and whatever limitations on private practice that may be attached will be negotiated with the consultants”.