RCPI identifies top priorities for next Minister for Health to improve patient care

Top priorities for next Government

A poll of our doctors shows that implementing measures to retain hospital doctors in the Irish health system, providing more hospital beds and investing in primary and community care should be top priorities.

Members of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland have identified the top priorities for the next Government and the Minister for Health to improve patient care. In a snap poll of our members based in Ireland,  - who primarily work in hospitals across the country-  they highlighted the top five priorities that, if effectively implemented, can improve patient care.

What do our doctors want the next Minister for Health to do?

  1. Implement measures to improve retention of hospital doctors in Ireland (72%)
  2. Increase bed capacity in hospitals (56%)
  3. Invest in primary care (52%)
  4. Enable more patient care at home or in the community (46%)
  5. Recruit more doctors (43%)

Other options highlighted include:

  • Recruit more nurses and non-medical frontline staff (35%)
  • Invest in preventive medicine and public health initiatives to support people to lead healthy lives (34%)
  • Invest in mental health services (34%)
  • Invest in physical hospital infrastructure and equipment (27%)
  • Increase the number of accredited training posts for Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (22%)
  • Invest in social care (20%)
  • Prepare for the health impact of climate change (16%)
  • Extend medical card eligibility (5%)
  • Extend free GP care for children (4%)

Our doctors are working at the front line delivering high quality patient care in all regions across Ireland, often in challenging and overcrowded environments. With almost 600 hospital consultant posts vacant, the strain is being felt across the system by all staff and patients and must be urgently addressed. This is at a time when every year, hundreds of our newly trained doctors are opting to work internationally, often for better work life balance and career progression, and where there is no pay disparity between newly appointed Consultants and their colleagues.

Professor Mary Horgan

President, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Addressing the problems that result in long waiting lists, unacceptable numbers of patients being cared for on trolleys and in corridors is complex but is not impossible. There is a political commitment to address the pay parity issue which is to be welcomed as a measure to retain doctors in Ireland. Many of the other priorities can be implemented through Sláintecare. There are opportunities to bring more patient care out of hospitals and into the community, particularly for older people and those with chronic conditions. Such a reorganisation can help to ease the pressures on the hospitals and their staff and provide a better experience for patients. This must be prioritised by the next Government.

Professor Mary Horgan

Other priorities mentioned by doctors include the provision of free contraception, improving the hospital IT infrastructure which can be a huge challenge often generating enormous amounts of wasted time, repetition of tasks, unnecessary paperwork, confidentiality risk, unnecessary hospitalisations, tests and treatments, and less time to focus on what needs to be done.

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland is Ireland’s largest postgraduate medical training body with over 11,000 Members and Fellows based in Ireland and abroad.