A National Healthcare Forum made of public and private stakeholders should be established to tackle current and future health service challenges, according to Fine Gael TD Colm Burke.
Deputy Burke, Fine Gael’s Dáil health spokesperson said: “Divisions that can emerge between politicians and the HSE and between politicians and healthcare professionals serves no useful purpose.
“The creation of a National Healthcare Forum is urgently required as we must identify how we can fast track the delivery of healthcare and provide the additional supports that are required for those who working at the frontline in our hospitals. It should include all stakeholders, including service users, in the healthcare sector – public and private – and could respond in a positive way to challenges like overcrowding which is particularly acute at the current time.
“Creating a National Healthcare Forum, with a strong mandate from Government and an active and respected Chair, would provide an opportunity for all stakeholders in the Irish healthcare sector to exchange ideas and best practices and encourage collaboration. It would have to be given a clear timeframe to provide recommendations and provide for these to be implemented
“The HSE, Department of Health and the Oireachtas Health Committee should be essential participants in any National Healthcare Forum. The Forum should also include the private hospital sector and nursing home sector [public and private] and private healthcare and social care providers. It should also include medical and nursing schools and health research institutions.
“We saw during the Covid pandemic that the private hospital sector provided essential back-up for the hospital system. They can provide a similar service during the annual winter surge in hospitalisations.
“In particular, there would be huge benefit in the participation of the Pharmaceutical and Med Tech sector in long term planning for the provision of medical care. There are more than 80 pharma companies in Ireland. All of the top international pharmaceutical companies have operations in Ireland and Ireland is one of the largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals in the world.
“Creating a National Healthcare Forum would also provide an opportunity for all stakeholders in the healthcare sector in Ireland to exchange ideas and encourage collaboration. Collaboration between the public and private sector could be particularly useful in the area of new drugs trials and new vaccines trials, and also in research and innovation.
“A Healthcare Forum would also encourage private companies to financially support the development of much needed health infrastructure and the provision of specialised healthcare services.
“One of the major topics to be addressed by the Forum relates to staffing. The HSE has great difficulty retaining staff and Ireland is now increasingly dependent on non-EU doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff. Issues surrounding training, terms and conditions, career progression and other staffing concerns are all contributing to Irish trained staff leaving the service.
“I believe some solutions could be provided to the issues identified through the immediate establishment of a National Healthcare Forum,” according to Deputy Burke.