HSE National Service Plan ‘Not up to Scratch’- Seán Crowe TD
Dublin South West Seán Crowe TD described the HSE National Service Plan announced by the HSE as ‘not up to scratch’ and wholly insufficient for the almost daily crisis facing the health service.” The National Service Plan 2015 for the health services has been published and given full approval by the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.
The plan lays out the type and level of services that the Health Service Executive hopes to provide both directly and through agencies, funded by them
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
"By the Health Service Executive’s own admission its plan will not be ‘up to scratch’ to fully address the increasing demands being placed on our hospital system.
There is a mounting crisis facing the health service with 50,000 patients waiting for an appointment for more than a year. We have seen the waiting lists soar this year as a direct result of the earlier plan that was approved. In the first nine months this year figures suggest that there has been a 20% increase in waiting times for inpatient cases, and the number of people waiting more than a year for an outpatient appointment rose from 9,406 in January to 46,642 at the end of September – a whopping jump of 385%. Behind all these numbers there are real people desperately hoping for a life transforming operation or specialist medical advice. There is nothing in the plan that will reassure those waiting that numbers will be drastically reduced any time in the distant future.
"The so called ‘Fair Deal’ for elderly patients continues to underprovide with hard pressed families having to make up the shortfall, stretched to breaking point. There are ongoing delays in discharging patients and this has contributed in no small way by a lack of step down beds, but the plan only offers a miserly €25 million.
“The tiny increase in numbers of doctors and nurses will be welcome, but will have no real impact considering the incremental cuts in frontline personnel in recent years.
“Many of the other positive elements in this plan have already announced. There will be a broad welcome for the additional €20m funding for disability services, but again this will be seen as playing ‘catch up’.
“Sinn Féin’s alternative budget published in early October would have provided an additional €31 million for these services, openly acknowledging that even that would not be enough due to years of severe underfunding.
“€25m is allocated for free GP care for children under the age of 6, but there is still uncertainty surrounding the so called ‘nominal’ charge by GPs for this care.
“This plan is being promoted as adding an extra €625 million to the health spend next year, but €510 million is already part of the 2014 overspend carried forward, so that will leave an additional €115 million.
“Knowing only too well the HSE’s history the likelihood is that much of this will be used to paper over existing cracks rather than any thought-out patient centred plan
“The plan also aims to cut spending on patent drugs with a greater emphasis on alternative generics.
“There is a general consensus among those interested in health that the spend on agency staff particularly in the nursing area, has to be reduced but it cannot be done in isolation and without also looking at any possible impact this will have on health delivery.
“This proposed plan is ‘not up to scratch,’ appears to have been cobbled together and gives us little new content, unfortunately nothing that would give a person waiting on services any great confidence.”