All Party Health Committee is Important Step

Seán Sherlock TD
01 June 2016

Cork East Deputy Sean Sherlock has welcomed the Motion to create an All-Party Committee on the future of healthcare in Ireland and has stated that the Labour Party will engage in a productive manner with this new committee. Deputy Sherlock said: “If we are honest we can reasonably assume there is much common ground between all of us on the needs of citizens.“There must be a particular focus on the continuum as between primary, secondary and tertiary care provision. The one question I have on the creation of the committee is how it dovetails with the programme for Government commitments. Will it be a tool for Government policy into the future or what mandate will it have if it comes up with a set of recommendations that do not tally with the programme for Government commitments, of which there are many? “Given that approximately €13 billion has been spent this year alone in the health sector and considering the many commitments in the programme for Government from primary care through to secondary and tertiary care, including mental health, the issue of resources will have to be addressed within the remit of the committee.“If we are to aspire to a fully comprehensive continuum between primary, secondary and tertiary care, including community care and mental health provision, that will cost a good deal of money and clear choices will have to be made.”Deputy Sherlock highlighted challenges facing the health service on a long term basis, including the fact the number of people over 85 years in Ireland is increasing by approximately 3.3% each year, according to CSO estimates.This presents a major challenge for all in terms of management of demographics. “On the issue of chronic care, 38% of Irish people over the age of 50 years have one chronic disease. Chronic disease accounts for 80% of all GP visits, 40% of hospital admissions and 75% of hospital bed days. “If we are to ensure a policy that seeks to keep people out of tertiary care facilities for as long as possible and interventions are made at community level that has a major impact in terms of patient care in the community and it also creates the ability to reduce costs and to be more efficient in terms of the use of resources,” stressed Deputy Sherlock.“On the flip side, it means that it will require a massive injection of capital investment into the primary care system. If we are to manage the demographic challenges and the ongoing challenges in chronic care, as I have outlined, the primary care facilities will need resources in that paradigm.”

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