Minister Martin stresses commitment to Primary Care Strategy
Addressing the first national conference on Primary Care in Galway today (24 October), Micheál Martin T.D., Minister for Health and Children, said that the Government was fully committed to the implementation of the Primary Care Strategy “Primary Care: A New Direction”, The Minister added “We are committed to achieving this by working in partnership with the stakeholders involved, many of which are represented at this conference, including the professions, the statutory and voluntary sectors and the clients of the services. My recent announcement of provision of €8.4m in 2002 and 2003 for the establishment of 10 primary care projects around the country indicates the commitment to the development of a primary care model capable of meeting the vast majority of people´s day-to-day health care needs – delivered in the community in the most appropriate and accessible way”.
The Minister underlined the central role of primary care in a modern health system. The Primary Care Strategy seeks to shift the emphasis from the current over-reliance on acute services, such as hospitals to one-stop-shops where patients will be able to access a team of GPs, nurses, physiotherapists, chiropodists, social workers and home helps. Wider networks of health and social care professionals, including community pharmacists, will also work with a number of primary care teams. “The public, and indeed the providers of the services have told us what a modern health system should provide – a first class continuum of care, close to home and available around the clock. The Primary Care Strategy provides the blueprint for that kind of care,” he said.
He added that earlier in October he had approved the first primary care implementation projects, which, in ten locations around the country, will build on resources already in place so as to develop a primary care team in line with the model described in the Strategy. “By bringing this wide range of service providers together in primary care teams, integrated services can be delivered in the community in the most appropriate and accessible way,” said the Minister.
The Primary Care Strategy takes a long-term view, looking forward over the next ten years or so. “This implementation period recognises that there are major structural changes which must occur in order for the new primary care model to be implemented”, said the Minister. “It is also necessary to ensure that the required numbers of health professionals are trained and retained in the system over the coming decade and beyond to meet anticipated needs. Manpower planning for the decades ahead will be directed at meeting those requirements on a planned and structured basis,” he added.
The Minister laid particular emphasis on the commitment in the Primary Care Strategy to involve the community in the planning and delivery of primary care services. “This input will assist in the development and provision of services in ways which more closely meet the needs of the community as perceived by the users themselves,” said the Ministe