March 1, 2022
HSE Service Plan ‘high on rhetoric but short on substance’ and will not permanently cut wait times – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has criticised the HSE Service Plan for 2022 as “high on rhetoric but short on substance.” He said it will not permanently cut wait times.

The Sinn Féin TD for Waterford has said that the Service Plan will not be able to deliver on ambitious targets because the Government have not implemented the fundamental reforms which are needed to permanently cut wait times.

Teachta Cullinane said that Service Plan pours cold water on Sláintecare plans for important reforms like Regional Health Areas. He said that these new structures are essential for accountability and giving local management the tools to get the job done, but that there was no appetite at senior levels for major accountability reforms.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“The HSE Service Plan for 2022 is full of laudable targets and lofty ambitions. It is high on rhetoric but unfortunately it is short on substance.

“We know what causes waiting lists, and we need a zero-tolerance approach to these problems. We need to change how we do healthcare.

“The Service Plan relies on outsourcing to the private sector at a time when the HSE is supposed to be expanding public capacity and ending its overreliance on private hospitals. Instead, it beds in private sector investment.

“The Government have not made the major reforms in Regional Health Areas, eHealth, and capacity needed to tackle wait times permanently, and do not seem to have any plan for this either.

“There is no additional capital funding to expand theatre capacity, diagnostics, or beds in hospitals and the community.

“The HSE talks about Regional Health Areas as new ‘reporting structures,’ more bureaucracy, which is a fundamental mistake.

“The Health Service does not need more bureaucracy; it needs to reduce management levels and bring accountability closer to the problem.

“Regional Health Areas should have significant powers in recruitment and capital planning.

“They should be accountability structures, not reporting structures, which give good managers the tools to fix problems in their hospitals and take a zero-tolerance approach to long waits.

“Between the Service Plan and the Minister’s waiting list plan, we have had plenty of spin but no vision. There is no joined-up workforce development strategy to underpin these plans, to train, recruit, and retain enough health professionals to tackle waiting lists.

“We need to make the health service more accountable, to improve it as a place to work, to fix the workforce crisis, and to put the capacity in, and only then can we permanently cut wait times.

“If the Minister is truly happy with this plan, then it is clear he has no appetite for the fundamental changes that are needed.”

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