If the new government in Ireland delivers on Sláintecare, its proposed universal healthcare, then outbound medical tourism from the country will fall.
The new government document emerging from talks between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party details how the three parties propose to deal with healthcare.
Implementing Sláintecare is seen as a key priority, with a promise to finalise the new Sláintecare consultant contract and legislate for public-only work in public hospitals.
They also promise to extend medical cards to the terminally ill, extend free GP care to more children and cap parking charges in hospitals.
Significant work will be done for women’s health, mental health, and drug treatment policy. In terms of drugs and addiction, promises have been made to review the regulations and legislation that apply to cannabis use for medical conditions and palliative care.
At its core, Sláintecare commits to ensuring people have access to affordable health care services.
Over the lifetime of the Government, the plan is to expand universal access to healthcare in a manner which fair and affordable by undertaking the following:
- Increase homecare hours and introduce a Statutory Homecare Scheme
- Extend free GP care to more children
- Extend free GP care to carers in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant
- Abolish in-patient hospital charges for children
- Extend free dental care to more children
- Introduce baby boxes for all new parents
- Reduce prescription charges and the Drug Payment Scheme threshold
- Increase the income threshold on medical cards for people over 70
- Introduce a cap on the maximum daily charge for car parking charge for patients and visitors at all public hospitals, where possible. Introduce flexible passes in all hospitals for patients and their families
- In the wake of Covid-19, to restart essential services which had been put on pause due to the pandemic.
The document details how the health service in Ireland will be dramatically changed in order to adjust to a new normal in the sector.
It will examine new ways to use community settings and create partnerships with private hospitals, to avoid placing increased pressure on the public system.
Long waiting lists have plagued previous governments, so the document proposes agreement to creating significant additional capacity by committing to:
- Continue investment in healthcare infrastructure and equipment, together with the recommendations of the Capacity Review, in line with Project Ireland 2040
- Open the National Children’s Hospital
- Conclude the governance arrangements and commence the building of the new maternity Hospital at St Vincent’s Hospital
- Provide new radiation oncology facilities in Galway and Dublin
Ireland is a magnet for UK, European and US businesses, and might be seen as a European hub after the UK exits from the European Union. This sort of economic growth makes healthcare affordable.
Long medical and dental waiting lists have driven people to go to Northern Ireland, England or Europe and theses plans could, within a few years, drastically reduce the need for outbound medical tourism.