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'Our health cuts harshest in OECD'
[Posted: Fri 04/11/2011 www.irishhealth.com]
By Alison Moore
Ireland's healthcare budget over the past four years has suffered the largest pro-rata cuts in the shortest space of time of any OECD country to date, according to Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) General Secretary Liam Doran.
Addressing an INMO conference on patient safety in Dublin today, he said 'wards are closing around us' and nurses and midwives are being placed under increasing pressure to do their jobs with fewer and fewer resources.
In this environment, he added, it was 'more important than ever' that the patient must come first.
In a time of financial cutbacks, nurse and midwife training can be seen as a soft target but Mr Doran pointed to the case of the Mid-Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust in the UK, where similar cuts had a disastrous outcome for patients.
He said in this case, standards of care fell dramatically as the focus shifted from patient care to financial accountability.
Mike Gill, the former finance director and deputy CEO from the Mid-Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust told the conference of the dire consequences that the policy of 'being on the money at all costs' had on the clinical outcomes at his hospital.
This focus led to changes in nursing practice that dimished skill, undermined clinical leadership and ultimately culminated in raising mortality rates in the hospital, he said.
The lesson learned was that at all times a hospital and healthcare workers' priority must be the patient and the 'big picture stuff', and not to be distracted from this, Mr Gill said.
Mr Doran said that Ireland 'must listen and learn' from the experiences in the NHS, be mindful that the clinical needs of patients must remain the priority and that nurses and midwives must continue to report unsafe situations as they arise in Irish hospitals.
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