Healthcare Needs Cross-Party Collaboration

May 4, 2016

Yesterday we submitted a motion in the Dáil recognising the severe pressures on the Irish Health Service, the unacceptable waiting times that arise for public patients, and the poor outcomes relative to cost.

The country needs our political parties to reach consensus on a funding model for the health service, with the aim of ensuring that patients get the treatment that they need, not just the treatment they can afford.

Our motion, which you can read in full below, also urges a strong shift towards primary and community care. We propose a goal of adopting a 10 year strategic plan for our health services.

Róisín Shortall said:

“Most political parties agree on the need for an overhaul of our health system in order to prioritise people’s medical need and ensure universally-accessible, quality care. On that basis it should be possible for all groups to come together around this vital piece of work and that is why we are calling for the creation of a cross-party Committee to agree on the future direction of health policy in Ireland.”

It is our proposal that this sub-committee would hold hearings in public where expert witnesses would be invited to make submissions.

The ultimate goal of the committee would be the production of a long-term evidence based policy plan for the Irish Health Service. The Committee would be mandated to report within 6 months.

We have extended the offer to collaborate on this key issue to every grouping within the Dáil and we would hope that others see the value in working together constructively to fundamentally overhaul the current dysfunctional health service and reach cross-party agreement on its future direction.

The Motion (Full Text)

That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, and recognising:

the severe pressures on the Irish health service, the unacceptable waiting times that arise for public patients, and the poor outcomes relative to cost;

the need for consensus at political level on the health service funding model;

the need to establish a universal single-tier service where patients are treated on the basis of health need rather than on ability to pay;

that the best health outcomes and value for money can be achieved by re-orientating the model of care towards primary and community care where the majority of people’s health needs can be met locally;

and with the intention of adopting a 10 year plan for our health services, based on political consensus, that can deliver these changes,

resolves that

a) a Special Committee shall be established to devise cross-party agreement on the future direction of health policy in Ireland; within 3 weeks of the passing of this motion;

b) the Committee shall examine different funding models for the health service;

c) the Committee shall make recommendations on the funding models that are best suited to Ireland and have these models fully costed;

d) the Committee shall examine and make recommendations on how best to re-orientate the health service on a phased basis towards primary and community care in as short a timeframe as possible;

e) notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 93, the Committee shall elect one of its members to be Chairman, who shall have one vote;

f) the Committee shall be mandated to hold hearings in public with expert witnesses; invite and accept written submissions; draw up a report(s); make findings; and/or suggest recommendations if the membership so agrees in unison or in majority/minority format;

g) the Committee shall produce an interim report, containing also its proposed work schedule, to be debated at a meeting of the Dáil no less than one week, and no more than two months, after its establishment;

h) within six months of the initial meeting, a final report by the Committee shall be presented to the Ceann Comhairle for earliest possible discussion in the House;

i) the Committee shall meet as frequently as appropriate to fulfil its remit; and

j) the Committee membership shall be made up of three members appointed by Fine Gael, three members by Fianna Fáil, two members by Sinn Féin, one member by the Labour Party and five members representing the independent deputies and members from other political parties.