Health and social care charities call on Government to publish Sláintecare implementation plan

The Health Reform Alliance has today called on the Government to publish its implementation plan for the Sláintecare report without delay at a press conference to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the publication of the report. The Alliance says Ireland now has a detailed roadmap to achieve universal, publicly funded health care, but it is being held back by stasis in its implementation.

Kathryn Reilly, co-chair of the Health Reform Alliance, said: “Sláintecare is single long-term vision for health and social care in Ireland, but at the moment it is just a vision. That is why, a year on from publication of Sláintecare we are calling on Government to publish its implementation plan without delay, and to ensure the necessary funding is made available on a multi-annual basis.”

“Delays in implementation of the report can only serve to sow doubt, when urgency is needed to make universal healthcare a reality.”

“Universal healthcare will not happen overnight, but it can be achieved with adequate planning and support from all stakeholders, including the Government. The Government, particularly the Taoiseach, needs to take the lead in implementing the wide-ranging reform set out in the Sláintecare Report.

Paul Gordon, co-chair of the Health Reform Alliance, said: “To date, progress on Sláintecare has been piecemeal. While some additional funding was made available in Budget 2018 towards the delivery of Sláintecare and important pieces of work such as the capacity review have taken place, without an implementation plan, we haven’t yet seen the kind of joined-up approach to delivering universal healthcare that’s needed to redefine our health services.

“Sláintecare has been all but held back a year. This state of arrested development cannot be allowed to persist. The cross-Party political consensus on a single long-term vision for health and social care in Ireland exists, now it needs to be backed up by the political will to achieve it.”

The Committee on the Future of Healthcare, which was established by the Dáil in 2016 with a remit to achieve cross-Party consensus on a single long-term vision of healthcare and health policy in Ireland, published its Sláintecare Report one year ago. The report sets out a number of recommendations and proposals that will radically change the face of health and social care in the next ten years.

The Health Reform Alliance invited Robert Yates, Project Director of the Universal Health Coverage Policy Forum at Chatham House, to Dublin to share his expertise on universal health coverage, and to support its call for action from the top of Government.

Speaking at the Health Reform Alliance’s press conference, alongside clinicians, politicians and academics united in calling for implementation, Mr. Yates said: “From my experience in advising political leaders and government ministries on how to plan, finance and implement national UHC reforms, buy-in and leadership from the head of Government is absolutely paramount in achieving real reform.”

“As a young, popular, qualified physician, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar is, in my mind, uniquely positioned to deliver such change, and leave a lasting legacy for the people of Ireland”.

Ms. Reilly added:

“For too long health care has portrayed as a drain on resources rather than an investment in people. The Taoiseach must now demonstrate his commitment to Sláintecare and steer the narrative of Sláintecare and Budget 2019 into one of delivering a health system focused on caring for all groups in our society and ensuring the resources necessary to do so.”