A warning that the health service funding crisis is increasing the risk of hospital deaths has been made by the President of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association at its annual conference in Cork.
Dr Gerard Crotty was addressing delegates at the Irish Hospital Consultants Association AGM when he said that patients were almost certainly dying unnecessarily in Irish hospitals while waiting for a hospital bed. He used figures from international studies to highlight a 30 percent increase in hospital deaths when patients are left waiting on trolleys after being admitted to hospital.
Dr Crotty told delegates that he feared what will happen during the winter months; pointing out that there had been a substantial decline in day case patients while hospital beds were being allocated to emergency cases. He said that years of “easy cost-saving measures” was the cause of the health service funding crisis, and that the health service in Ireland was now showing the strain.
Referring to the health service as being in “intensive care”, Dr Crotty forecast that there would be a patient safety crisis unless the Government significantly increased funding for frontline health services. He called for a realistic budget – rather than a token gesture by the Government – in order to deliver safe, high quality care to patients without the unacceptable delays which are currently being experienced.
During his speech, Dr Crotty also touched upon the acknowledgement by Health Minister Leo Varadkar that the 30 percent pay cut for new entrant consultants had been a mistake. Dr Cotty claimed that it had done nothing to alleviate the health service funding crisis and that it had reduced the attractiveness of senior medical positions. He called upon the Health Minister to completely reverse the 30 percent pay cut to halt the flow of newly graduating doctors taking positions overseas.
Delegates at the conference also heard their General Secretary – Martin Varley – announce that a number of consultants had taken legal action against the Department of Health to recover the pay rises they were promised in 2008. Under the agreements – Mr Varley told delegates – consultants were due pay rises from €175,000 to €240,000, but the increases failed to materialise when the economic crisis developed and the Department of Health prioritised other areas of the health service.