Political accountability needed on Health recruitment

15 February 2022

After raising at Leader’s Questions revelations from internal Department of Health meetings, Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly said there must be political accountability for health service recruitment targets and the impact of unfilled positions on health services.

Deputy Kelly said:
“The Taoiseach and the Minister for Health must take political responsibility for issues in our health service and can’t pass the buck, and try to put the blame onto the HSE. I raised a series of issues with the Taoiseach at Leader’s Questions and the hands off approach isn’t good enough.

“If a recruitment target of 10,000 can’t be met then that means some essential services won’t be delivered with real world impacts on people. It is up to the politicians in charge to deliver on the commitments they make at budget time and in the Programme for Government.

“There were 532 people on trolleys this morning in our hospitals, over 700 vacant consultant posts, and hundreds of thousands of people on waiting lists. If this isn’t about money then the Minister must identify what the issues are and find solutions.

I also raised with the Taoiseach the growing crisis in our GP services, with 26 vacancies on the GMS panels, and 13 areas without a GP for over a year. One in five GPs will retire by the end of the decade, so we will need 2,000 more GPs.

“If 4,500 funded positions can’t be filled then it is up to the Minister for the Health and the Taoiseach to ensure solutions are found to address that.

“We have an opportunity post Covid to put in place a single-tier public health service. The long-term health impacts of a lack of continuity of care and the difficulty of getting an appointment will cause even more waiting lists and issues.

“Evidence from the UK shows that earlier intervention and having extra GPs per head of population saves people from acute and chronic illnesses. This will reduce the pressure on acute services, and waiting lists, but if we aren’t able to hire enough people then we need to figure out what is going wrong.”

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