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Thursday 8 December 2016

Hospitals now in 'death zone' - IMO

Dr Ray Walley, the president of the Irish Medical Organisation
Dr Ray Walley, the president of the Irish Medical Organisation

Hospitals are now operating in the "death zone" where bed occupancy levels are over the point at which mortality rates rise, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned.

Dr Ray Walley, the president of the IMO warned that a supplementary budget will be required for the Department of Health again this year, at the launch of its pre-budget submission.

"The health service budget is down by about €4bn since 2009, and every part of the health services is now in trouble. Front line staff have shouldered incredible pressures to keep the show on the road but they simply can't do any more," said Dr Walley (inset).

He said that Health Minister Leo Varadkar needs to be very clear about what his priorities are and how he is allocating resources to tackle them.

Chaos

"We are literally one bad week away from chaos in our hospitals and queues at our GP surgeries. We don't need unrealistic talk about changing the model of healthcare or adding more pressures on over-stretched resources," he said.

The submission has called for more beds to be put in public hospitals, stating that since 2007, 1631 acute beds have been taken out of Irish hospitals, even though demand is rising as the population grows.

Dr Walley set out what he described as "deadly failings of Irish health policy".

These included that hospitals are now operating in "the death zone" where occupancy levels are over the point (92.5pc) at which mortality rates rise.

"Despite the intense efforts of front-line professionals once occupancy levels reach this level, deaths occur that would not otherwise occur," he said.

He also said GP services are "in crisis", mental health spending is behind target; health professionals are opting to emigrate, and the country is facing national crises in relation to obesity and alcohol.

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