Proactive approach needed to address inequality in community and social healthcare

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Stephen Donnelly, has said that the ESRI geographic profile of healthcare in Ireland highlights a glaring inequality in community and social healthcare in Wicklow. Deputy Donnelly called for the targeted tailoring of resources and funding to address shortages.

He said, “Inequality cannot be tolerated in healthcare. Through Slaintecare we are attempting to move towards universal healthcare which means that everyone, regardless of whether they have money or not, can access high standard healthcare. We need to see the same access in community healthcare.

“We know that central to this inequality is the fact that we have no data on population need. In fact, a system of resource allocation based on population need has not been in place since 2014 so it’s very reasonable to assume that this inequality will continue long into the future until we allocate on the basis of need.

“Community and social healthcare facilitate discharges from the acute hospital sector and prevents admissions in the first place. The ad hoc allocation of resources is undoubtedly heaping pressure on the acute network.

“We need to work smart and work hard to gather the stats. This will take a cross departmental approach from Government to use data on demographics to target resources to where they are needed most.

“Information on the number of under 6’s, the number of pensioners, the number of medical card holders and people with chronic illness in a given region should play a role in where resources are targeted.

 “It shouldn’t be the case that a child in Wicklow has to wait over a year for an initial appointment for speech therapy while a child on the other side of the country gets more immediate access.

“We know that sorting out problems in primary care provides the pathway to dealing with the issues in acute settings. We know that we need data and information to accurately target resources in primary care. So let’s get to it”, he concluded.

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