Fianna Fáil promotes strong community healthcare model – Smith

– Focus must shift from hospitals to community care –

Fianna Fail TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says community services are the  cornerstone of the party’s new health proposals.  The Party wants to see patients at the centre of the health service by creating enhanced community access instead of forcing people into hospital settings.

Deputy Smith commented, “The policy Putting Patients and Services First supports a publicly funded, publicly delivered healthcare service, which puts the patient before the structures.  We want to see people treated in their own communities rather than continuing with hospital-led provision.  This model would be particularly beneficial in the Cavan-Monaghan area – instead of relying on Cavan General Hospital to cater for the majority of diagnostic and treatment services, provision in Monaghan General and other smaller hospitals could be enhanced. Not only would this relieve the considerable pressure on staff in Cavan, it would open up more options and cut down on travel for patients and families.

“District and community hospitals could play a dual role in the roll-out of community care provision.  These hospitals could be used as step-down facilities or as transitional centres for people waiting for a place on the Fair Deal Scheme or for home care packages.

“We have seen waiting lists spiralling out of control because of this Government’s hospital-focused policies and the Health Minister himself has warned that these figures will get worse before they get better.  This is completely unacceptable.  Fianna Fáil is pledging to tackle this crisis.  We will reactivate the National Treatment Purchase Fund to bring waiting lists down.  We will ensure that all scheduled day case and in-patient care is delivered within the internationally recognised target of six months.

“Family GPs are at the heart of primary care.  However, I am all too familiar with situations in this country whereby some smaller towns and villages have been left without a GP because it is financially unsustainable for them to run a practice.  Our health plan would see GPs taken on by the HSE as employees to provide a service where none exists.

“In keeping with the community focus of the plan, Fianna Fáil will expand the role of community pharmacists to include the provision of vaccination services, the minor ailment scheme and health checks.  This would reduce the burden on GP practices and would provide an alternative for patients.

“We will abolish the €2.50 prescription charge over two years and reduce the threshold for the Drug Payment Scheme to €120 a month. This government pledged to abolish prescription charges and within a month of taking office, but instead it has increased them fivefold. We will get rid of these charges.

“This health policy will ensure a fairer, more equitable health system.  It builds on what we have already but will go further in achieving real results.  We will continue to build on these proposals and will be bringing forward additional measures over the coming months ahead of the General Election”.