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Roll out of primary care networks are urged

19 Apr 2015

The Government should roll out its proposed 90 primary care networks before the end of this year, “if it is serious about providing a viable healthcare system across the whole country”, the Director of Social Justice Ireland has said.

Fr Seán Healy was commenting on Social Justice Ireland’s 2015 Socio-Economic Review, which was published by the advocacy group last week.

“These networks are a very good example of what should be prioritised as resources become available from Ireland’s economic recovery,” said Fr Healy. “These networks would benefit the entire community and in particular older people, children and people with disability. They would go some way towards mitigating the income and service losses endured by Ireland’s most vulnerable since the crash of 2008.”

The 343-page Socio-Economic Review, entitled ‘Towards a Just Society: Securing Economic Development, Social Equity and Sustainability’, states that decent services in areas such as health and education and essential infrastructure in areas such as social housing and disabilities should be prioritised by Government.

According to the organisation, the development of 90 primary care networks across the country, each with about four or five primary care teams (PCTs), could have a substantial positive impact on reducing problems the healthcare system currently faces, and which, among other things, were putting huge pressure on emergency services in acute hospitals. “PCTs would, in effect, be one-stop shops providing a wide range of health services at local level. They should be the basic building block of local public healthcare provision.”

The report noted that Ireland had a “very underdeveloped system of primary care”, which resulted in significant pressure on the acute hospital system and a two-tier system of access to public hospital care.

“The Government target on public waiting lists is that the waiting time for treatment or outpatient appointment should be no longer than 15 months by the end of 2015. This is extremely unambitious and completely unacceptable. Very long waiting times have a disproportionate impact on those patients reliant on the public health service. Access to healthcare at any age should not be determined by the content of one’s wallet,” it added.

By June Shannon

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