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Health ‘not a priority’ in talks

03 May 2016

Outgoing IPU President Kathy Maher with Minister for Health Leo Varadkar at the IPU conference in Santry

The acting Minister for Health has admitted that health is not receiving the attention it deserves during Government formation talks.

Minister Leo Varadkar also told IMT that any changes or improvements to the health service should be as a result of clinical evidence and not because of any “political deal”.

“I am in the talks with Fianna Fáil and some of the Independents, and I definitely don’t think [health] has gotten the attention it deserves.”

He said the Independents had been seeking promises mainly on specific local health issues, rather than on the health service in general.

“They have looked for some national changes on disability but on health, it has really been local or regional asks. I am of the view that specialist and regional services should be located not as a result of a political deal or local demands, but following a review based on clinical evidence by the national clinical programmes.”

The acting health minister was at the Irish Pharmacy Union’s National Pharmacy Conference in Dublin last month to announce a pilot project for minor ailments, which will commence on June 1. The pilot will see 19 pharmacies provide treatment to medical card holders for common illnesses such as dry skin, threadworms, scabies and vaginal thrush.

“It is nothing radical, but it is a good change for Ireland and indicates that we are giving pharmacists the opportunity to manage patients,” he said.

Asked if GPs would disagree with this move, the Minister replied that they tended to “speak with two voices”. “Some of them will tell you they are overwhelmed with their workload and others will tell you that you can’t take away any of their work. But when it comes to public policy, what you do is put patients first and if patients can avoid an unnecessary trip to their GP that can only be a good thing.”


Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times