Irish Medical News


A Labour health ministry


What will Labour’s health policy mean for doctors?


Last week was when the main political parties launched their manifestos and more specifically their health plans. The area of health was just one in which the likely coalition parties Fine Gael and Labour differed in terms of plans and promises. Yet the parties may have to find compromises if they wish to form the coalition government that the polls suggest is in the offing.


While IMN reported last week that bookmaker Paddy Power have installed Dr James Reilly of Fine Gael as the oddson favourite, Deputy Jan O’Sullivan, health spokesperson for Labour is still worth a punt at 9/4. So what would you, the doctors, have to look forward to in a Labour-led health service?


GPs: You will no longer have to remonstrate with your private patients who bemoan the cost of their time with you, or attempt to eke out their
appointment in order to gain most value. Free GP care for all! Labour’s State guaranteed system of access to primary care will be phased in over four years, starting with free visits for all those with long-term illnesses. Does this mean GP waiting rooms will begin to resemble packed emergency departments?


Furthermore, this will be based on insurance principles without insurance companies. Does this mean we need insurance companies at all Minister?


Consultants: Labour will multiply you so you will have many more contemporaries – it won’t be as lonely for you. Have they looked into cloning?


Free GP care will partly be funded by a significant reduction in your basic wage, which will give them an extra €75 million and you a markedly different take-home pay. Deputy O’Sullivan feels that the taxpayer did not get value for their money from Mary Harney’s consultant contract and so a new one will be drafted. This will surely be as easily accepted as the last one. Oh wait….


And the HSE: In Labour’s universe, you still exist. You will “evolve” under Universal Health Insurance and spawn Regional Care Agencies. Fingers crossed. Joan Burton has warned Fine Gael that their health policy will be very, very high on any list of points to negotiate in order to form a coalition government. Yet their visions for Universal Health Insurance are in complete contrast and with vastly different timelines.


Deputy O’Sullivan may not be favourite to take up residence in Hawkins House but if she does her party politics may not necessarily enamour her to doctors and other healthcare professionals.


Next week: Your working life under Fine Gael


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