Labour commits to €40m rebalance of UHL Funding At Health Policy Launch

Alan Kelly TD
30 January 2020

Speaking at the launch of Labour’s health proposals in Limerick, Labour Party Health spokesperson and candidate for Tipperary Alan Kelly was joined by Jan O’Sullivan, candidate for Limerick City, and practising nurse Marian Spelman from Galway East, and he went on to say  Labour will commit €40 million to rebalance UHL funding from our additional annual funding of €1 billion for health.

Deputy Kelly said:

“Not a day goes by where University Hospital Limerick is not topping overcrowding lists. We are now left in a dreadful situation, where people, including members of my own family, are afraid to go into UHL. I do not blame them. We cannot solve the problems in UHL without dealing with the lack of resources – that’s why Labour will invest €40 million over three years.

“I have carried out significant research between the resources at UHL and at Beaumont Hospital and the disparity is frightening. These are similar hospitals in similar areas. The differential in staff numbers, including doctors, nurses and administrative staff, is huge and makes no sense. Labour is the only party to offer a multi-year solution on ending the resourcing issue in UHL.

“The Labour Party wants to stop waste in healthcare, we are pledging to spend an extra €1 billion a year to fix the problems that exist in our health service.

“Every Labour candidate across the country will tell you that healthcare is the number one issue, whether it be the trolley crisis, waiting lists, the recruitment embargo, rural GPs – and after nine years of Fine Gael at the helm in health, people are sick of the excuses and lack of action.

“Healthcare staff in hospitals across the country, particularly here in Limerick, are crying out for the Fine Gael HSE de-facto recruitment embargo to come to an end. Labour will end the de facto recruitment ban across the HSE. We need to end the over-reliance on agency staff, who are often underpaid. We need to provide permanent jobs, and we need to make them attractive to recruit the medical staff we need. Fine Gael are spending €900,000 every day on agency staff – this is wasteful and would be better spent on hiring permanent staff.

“At the same time, we need to recruit the necessary staff to make SláinteCare a reality, by recruiting nurses, home help workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and counsellors, as well as GPs.

“Labour is committed to a single health system that works for everyone, where everyone gets equally good medical treatment, based on need. The roadmap is the agreed all-party SláinteCare Report. Privatisation is all around us under Fine Gael- listen to the airwaves and advertising- and Fianna Fail wish to super-charge the National Treatment Purchase Fund. Ireland need a party that will focus on resourcing and managing our public healthcare system effectively. Only Labour can deliver on the values and the promise of Sláintecare.

“Labour will redirect funding to more local primary care centres closer to communities, which will provide medical tests, disability supports and mental health services and help people to manage long-term disease like diabetes. Having more staff in primary care centres will mean fewer people travelling to hospitals. That will reduce overcrowding and waiting times. And the primary care setting will provide administrative support, better equipment and other incentives to make the career of GP more attractive and to improve retention levels, including in rural Ireland.

“The Fine Gael-Fianna Fail axis will promise you tax cuts- but it is Labour that can develop the public services and community networks which can keep us collectively, healthy.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors: See below key spending and policy proposals from the Labour Party for the Department of Health, and the Health policy document which is available here:

https://www.labour.ie/download/pdf/ge2020_labour_health.pdf 

LABOUR KEY PROPOSALS FOR HEALTH

End the Recruitment Embargo – Deliver Sláintecare

Labour will allocate €5 billion of additional funding to our health services over the next five years, €4 billion in current spending, and an extra €1 billion to accelerate acute hospital beds and community health facilities. This is new money, in addition to the resources provided for demographics and the current capital plan. There is a staffing crisis, and a capacity crisis that needs to be urgently resolved.

MEASURES TO ADDRESS CAPACITY

  • Labour will deliver at least the 2,600 acute beds required under the capacity review and accelerate the Health Capital Programme.
  • Labour will end the de facto HSE recruitment embargo and over-reliance on agency staff.
  • Labour will recruit at least 4,000 additional nursing staff, including at least 400 public health nurses.
  • Labour will recruit at least 800 extra consultants in the next five years.
  • Labour will increase funding for home help and respite care, with a minimum of 5 million additional home help hours.
  • Labour will increase GP training places to 300.
  • Labour will extend free-of-charge GP care to all under-18s, and to everyone with a long-term illness or disability. Labour will ensure that no one with a serious disability or long-term illness is without at least a GP Visit Card if not a Medical Card.
  • Labour will review existing spending so that it is aligned to population medical need, not historical trends and commit the resource needed. We know that hospitals such as University Hospital Limerick are allocated too few staff compared to the amount of inpatients it receives annually. No wonder it is the most overcrowded hospital in the state. Labour will correct these inequalities and would commit to invest €40 million over three years in UHL.
  • Labour will review the best use of existing resources. In some places, expensive medical equipment is not being used every day due to lack of staff, while patients wait for months to use the same equipment in other parts of the country. Labour will ensure that all public equipment is being optimised. For example, the MRI in Wexford General is only used two days/week, and public money is used to send patients to private hospitals rather than staff the publicly-owned machine. Labour will end these wasteful practices.

PRIORTY HEALTH REFORMS

  • Labour will fully implement the Scally Report, and support survivors of the CervicalCheck scandal. We will implement the recommendations of the 221+ group.
  • Labour will ensure regional hospitals all have the 24-hour Emergency Consultants they need to prevent deaths. For example, Labour will stop the downgrading of Mullingar Accident and Emergency (A&E) and Labour will maintain A&E in the Mercy Hospital Cork.
  • Labour will reverse the €40 million deficit in acute funding in the Mid-West within three years, if in Government.
  • Labour will complete and staff the 60-bed unit at University Hospital Limerick.
  • Labour will extend the free flu vaccination widely across the population.
  • Labour will end the unfair treatment of the South-East in Cardiac care. (Waterford Cardiac is currently 9-5, Monday to Friday). Labour will deliver 24/7 cardiac care in Waterford.

PROPOSED FIRST YEAR 2021 SPENDING MEASURES

  • Lifting the Staffing Embargo. €200m
  • MidWest Initiative. €20m
  • Sláintecare Measures: Reduce hospital inpatient and out-patient charges, lower prescription charges to €1 per item (max €10/month), and reduce the Drug Payment Threshold from €124/month to €100/month. €100m
  • Provide free GP care for all children under-18. €80m
  • Provide an extra 100,000 Personal Assistant hours for people with disabilities and increase capacity in the Home Support Service to deliver a home care package to every identified case and additional funding €75,
  • Additional funding to address pay issues in the HSE, first year. €50m
  • Revised GP contract funding. €40m
  • Funding increases for dementia supports. €5,
  • Increased funding for mental health services, including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). €50m
  • Increased community neurological teams and managers. €5m
  • Fully staff early intervention teams. €5m
  • Employ an extra 100 midwives and 10 obstetricians (first year). €6.4m
  • Provide a free and comprehensive contraception service. €20m
  • Provide PrEP free-of-charge to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. €2.6m
  • Improved funding for cancer screening programmes. €5m
  • End period poverty by providing free-of-charge sanitary products. €5m
  • Additional funding for long-term residential care, respite beds and cancer care centres. €25m
  • Additional funding of €105m then available for allocation to other health programmes and pressures.

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