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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 30 November 2021

Think the health service is bad now? Doctors say it's going to get worse

Because people are living longer.

A HOST OF GPs say that a “storm is gathering on the horizon” for the Irish health service – because people are living longer.

A conference in Dublin held by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) tonight will hear from GPs who want political parties to pledge more resources for general practice.

The IMO’s plan would see GPs having an enlarged role in the treatment of illnesses like heart failure, diabetes, elderly care, obesity and cancer.

Currently, around one in ten Irish people is aged over 65. By 2040, that will be one in four. By age 65, over 60% of Irish people have at least two chronic illnesses.

The IMO says that for every €10 million added to the GP budget, €50 million is freed up in Irish hospitals.

Dr Austin Byrne, a GP from Tramore in Waterford, told the media today that the implementation of the IMO plan could cut admissions to hospital for heart failure by around 25%.

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Dr Padraig McGarry, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO said that the seminar was aimed at pressing politicians to see the long-term problem. He said that the Irish hospital system is unsuited to chronic care management and will never be able to cope with the inevitable increase in demand.

Elderly people 10 or 20 years from now will be asking ‘Why were my long term needs not planned for?’

“People are crying out for a vision for our health service. The IMO vision is clear; resource General Practice and empower it to play a full role in tackling a crisis which we know with certainty is coming.

Given the inescapable increase in the elderly population, longer life expectancy and everything we have seen occur in similar populations in other countries, we may end up regarding our current health care problems as “the good old days”.

Dr Tadhg Crowley, a GP in Kilkenny, said that he had not been impressed with any political party’s manifesto as it related to health. He said that now is the time for political parties to be specific in what they plan to do.

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