As you read this, on or around March 1, the political process will have moved on from the election campaign and the election day itself, into the phase where the formation of the next government is being negotiated. Obviously, I do not know, at the time of writing, who will be involved in this process and what the election will have delivered in terms of the number of seats for each party.
However, what can now be said with certainty is that the electioneering is over, the votes have been cast and the work (and that is hard work) of the new government will shortly begin.
In fairness, throughout the recent election campaign, the policy of the various main political parties on healthcare was more prominent than had been the case in previous recent elections. In particular the majority of the main parties repeatedly stated their commitment to a single-tier health service funded either through universal health insurance (with variations on the methodology) or through direct taxation. Fianna Fail, in its election manifesto, seems to favour the continuation of the existing two-tier model with a mix of general taxation and private health insurance.
Against this background, and if the opinion polls have proven correct, then it is probable that the parties preparing to take office are committed to a single-tier health service funded through one form of universal health insurance or another. The INMO, arising from our longstanding policy, warmly welcomes the commitment to a single tiered service.
We also welcome the commitment to universal primary care coverage. We look forward to discussions, with the incoming government, as to how we will truly develop our primary care services and enable them, through the allocation of the required resources utilised in an effective and efficient manner, to meet the care needs of people in their own home as far as possible. However, all the parties were very disappointing when challenged to detail the measures they would initiate immediately regarding lifting the moratorium on frontline staff, measures to alleviate A&E overcrowding, opening the closed beds that are needed for sick people, and, obviously, reversing the grossly unfair pay cut imposed on fourth-year prereg working student nurses/midwives.
This Organisation has consistently said that the current shortcomings of our health service is every bit as great a crisis as that facing our financial and banking services. If we continue to neglect our sick then we can never aspire to be a collective community who can work coherently towards the future in a fair and balanced manner.
The very onerous responsibility of government will shortly fall on the new cabinet. Whatever happens, and whoever forms the new government, we wish them well. It is in all our interests to lift this country out of economic recession, to ensure that we can provide essential public services like health, education and housing in an equitable manner and to provide, for our young people, an option of living in Ireland to practice their skills.
So, we say well done to the victorious party(ies) and the very best of good luck in their endeavours. For our part our commitment is that we will continue to raise, without fear or favour, the issues of concern to our members, in the frontline of our health service and the interests of our patients that we are there to serve.
General Secretary, INMO
|Editorial - Election over – real work begins|