Fórsa has welcomed aspects of the 2019 annual Sláintecare action plan, while saying the health department is moving too slowly on important aspects of the initiative. Sláintecare is an ambitious ten-year plan to achieve high-quality healthcare, free at the point of delivery. It won cross-party support in 2017.
Speaking after the publication of the Sláintecare action plan 2019, Fórsa’s head of health Éamonn Donnelly backed the objective of agreeing a new organisational structure this year for reconfigured health and social care services, which would clarify the roles of the HSE, health department and regional and community organisations.
But he said limited plans to develop “policy proposals for how to provide universal services at no or low cost” to patients and service-users lacked the necessary ambition. And he claimed plans to “review” existing recommendations for removing private practice from public acute hospitals fell far short of what’s needed.
“Fórsa totally supports the vision of a fair, high-quality health service free at the point of delivery, and we understand that making this a reality will take time and effort. We are actively involved in work on the reconfiguration of services, particularly in the community and primary care sector.
“But I am disappointed that the Government is not moving faster and with more ambition to get the foundations of a decent health service in place. ‘Reviews’ and ‘roadmaps’ are insufficient in fundamental areas like funding services and getting private medicine out of public health service facilities,” he said.
Fórsa has previously outlined a range of steps necessary to put Sláintecare in place. The union says there needs to be synergy between GP and state healthcare services, along with a shift away from the insurance-based funding model and towards public funding. The union also says there is an urgent need for better alignment of hospital and community-provided services, and that private practice in public hospitals should be phased out as quickly as possible.
Sláintecare requires a massive development of community services as it aims to shift the majority of care from the acute to the community setting.
“Fórsa has been leading the charge on this because we recognise and champion the principle of multi-disciplinary primary care delivered, as far as possible, in our communities rather than in hospitals. But there is a real concern among health professionals and staff that their experience and contribution will be sidelined, to the detriment of patients and clients, in yet another structure that puts all its focus on doctors – be they GPs or consultants – as the managers and epicentre of service delivery,” said Éamonn.
The 2017 Sláintecare report envisages a substantial increase in the number of people working in, and supporting, the health and social care professions.