Newsletter December 2012
Issued on December 2 2012
Irish health policy is now pointed in the right direction for people with disabilities. For example the Department of Health”s publication of 15th November, titled Future Health: A Strategic Framework for Reform of the Health Service 2012-2015, claimed that health services need to focus on keeping people healthy and on treating people in the community.
Similarly, the Value for Money and Policy Review of the HSE”s disability services called for a model of service provision that centres on the person and enables them to pursue their own outcomes. The National Disability Strategy brings a whole of government commitment to the approach.
The HSE reports on residential services and day services contain plans that would give people the choice of more independent living in the community. A shift towards care in the community is also the theme for mental health services and can be expected to feature in the forthcoming dementia strategy. In brief, the plan is to empower people, through essential services and basic income supports, to keep healthy and engaged.
The problem is that budget decisions under the National Recovery Programme are forcing the health system in exactly the wrong direction. Because the easiest cuts in the short term are those that don”t put pressure on the Croke Park Agreement or on the high visibility waiting lists for acute care, community-based services bear the brunt of austerity. DFI has consistently argued that this is both inhumane and wasteful. The Government”s failure to apply its own policy harms people with disabilities who are denied necessary disability-specific and other types of health services.
DFI”s criticisms have resonance in more exalted circles. Health System Responses to Financial Pressures in Ireland , published on the Department of Health”s website on 23rd November, and authored by an international partnership hosted by the World Health Organisation,looked at the evidence and concluded that the Irish Government could not achieve its health objectives through “efficiency savings”; increased funding was required. Ireland has to face up to the really difficult decisions in getting the budget into better balance by 2015. But to jettison its own sound policy on health services in the process is a statement of its intent to achieve the opposite result.
Chief Executive Officer