A new policy designed to ensure equal access to health care for all patients in Ireland has been launched.
The Equal Health Care Framework (EHF) aims to build a “health justice system” that ensures everyone is treated with the same dignity and respect.
It has been put forward by the National Health Service and the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSIC) in partnership with the Irish Medical Association (IMA).
“The aim of the scheme is to ensure that every single person is treated in the same way, regardless of their race, religion, disability or gender identity.
The goal is to end discrimination, prejudice and discrimination against patients in all sectors of the health service,” said the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.
The HSF is being developed as part of the Health (Hospitals) Bill 2017.
The scheme is expected to be rolled out in the next 12 months.
The EHF will make it easier for hospitals to meet patient needs in the context of race, ethnicity, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity and expression, in particular by ensuring they provide an integrated and inclusive health service for people of all races, ethnicities, nationalities and national origins.
It will also provide for increased transparency in the delivery of care to those with mental health and/or physical health needs, by providing clearer and more transparent information on how care is provided, how it is funded, the types of services delivered and the payment of the charges.
This will be achieved through the use of a national database and patient-centred data collection and analysis to better understand and assess the impact of health services on the lives of people of different nationalities, the minister added.
“There is much to be done to ensure all patients are treated with dignity and with respect, but this is not a problem that is unique to Ireland, it is something that we are all working together to achieve,” said Dr. Brian O’Sullivan, CEO of the Irish Health Services Confederation (IHSC).
“In 2017, the HSF aims to be the most inclusive health system in the world.
This is an opportunity for Ireland to join the global community in being an advocate for a fair, equitable and inclusive system for the health of our people.
IHSC is delighted that Minister Varadarajan is taking the lead on this important initiative.”
Dr. O’Neill, who is the chair of the IHSCs Committee on Health, added: “In Ireland, we have an extremely diverse and multicultural population and the IHSC is proud that the HFS aims to ensure the full equality of health care is the norm in all aspects of our society.
The implementation of this scheme will ensure that all patients can get the care they need, whether that is in a hospital, home, a clinic or community service.
I hope that this initiative will help to make Ireland a world leader in health justice.”
Minister Varidkar said the HGF was an important step forward in ensuring that all people have access to a quality health service, and highlighted that the health care system is a vital part of our economic and social development.
“This new initiative aims to put a positive and achievable model for a health justice system into place and will hopefully be the basis of a more inclusive health care future in Ireland,” he said.
Dr. John Donnelly, President of the National Association of Public Health Personnel (NAPHP) welcomed the announcement and welcomed the inclusion of Irish medical professionals in the EHF.
“I am pleased that Dr. Varadakar has made this important step towards ensuring that everyone gets the care that they need,” he added.
This includes a greater focus on gender equity, and the inclusion and integration of all staff.
“It is an important and timely step that makes a real difference to the lives and health of all people in Ireland.
The IHSSC is confident that with the implementation of the HHF, the Irish health system will be able to be a leader in the global health movement in the areas of equality and equity in health, and to take this important challenge forward.”
For more information on the Hsf, please visit www.health.gov.ie/health/health-justice-framework.
For more on the IFSC, please contact: Aileen Fergusson, Chairperson, National Association for Public Health Professionalism, Co. Kildare, TD, Theirn-Meadow, Co Kildarra, 01-931 6891, [email protected]