Outpatient Waiting lists exceed 600,000 in July 2020 while COVID-19 cases rise
The latest outpatient waiting lists indicate that 601,362 patients were awaiting an appointment as of July 2020, an increase of 8 per cent on January 2020 and 66.7 per cent since 2014. Almost 20 per cent were waiting 0-3 months while 22.8 per cent were waiting 18 months or more. With COVID-19 case numbers again increasing, these waiting lists are likely to continue to rise.
Conference Proceedings: A New Social Contract, A New Social Dialogue: Building a Better Future
On Wednesday, 18th November 2020 Social Justice Ireland held its Annual Social Policy Conference entitled A New Social Contract, A New Social Dialogue: Building a Better Future. This conference featured presentations by national and international experts as well as a panel discussion with representatives of the five pillars of Social Partnership. All presentations given on the day are contained within this book of conference proceedings.
Budget 2021 must address healthcare inequalities
People should be assured of the required treatment and healthcare in their times of illness and vulnerability. The standard of care available is dependent to a great degree on the resources made available, which in turn are dependent on the expectations of society. Covid-19 put an unprecedented strain on our healthcare system, however the systemic issues and overreliance on acute services which dominated the Irish healthcare infrastructure pre-Covid only served to exacerbate the problem.
Programme for Government misses opportunity for pension reform
The current State Pension system deprives many people who have spent their lives in caring roles of financial security in their old age. These are people society should be rewarding, not penalising. With the new Programme for Government committing to the proposed Auto Enrolment Plan, an opportunity to increase the fairness of the Irish pension system is being missed, and at a substantial financial cost.
Reaction to draft Programme for Government
A full analysis of the draft Programme for Government will be published in due course. In the meantime, our initial response highlights 10 positives contained within the PfG and 10 causes for concern. We go on to list other areas contained in the document on which Social Justice Ireland had advocated and campaigned.
Measuring the socio-economic impact of Government policies
An open and transparent policy evaluation process, with meaningful engagement from all stakeholders, would ensure that we learn from our successes and from our mistakes. Such a process would ensure that we evaluate both and offer a framework to take our policy successes and replicate them across Government. Social Justice Ireland believes strongly in the importance of developing a rights-based approach to social, economic, and cultural policy. A key policy measure to deliver an open and transparent policy evaluation process is to measure the socio-economic impact of each budget. This should be a statutory responsibility for Government.
Recovery plans must address Social Impact of COVID-19
On Friday, 8th May 2020, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published the results of its survey on the Social Impact of COVID-19. This, as might be expected, makes for concerning reading. The self-reported well-being of the population as a result of the COVID-19 crisis was worse than in 2013, at the height of the impact of the 2008 Financial Crash, with just 12.2 per cent reporting a high life satisfaction rating in April 2020, compared to 31.4 per cent in 2013. The report highlights again the need for a new Social Contract to pave the way for recovery from the impact of COVID-19 and beyond. The impact of job losses on well-being, social inclusion and financial stress are severe and the changes in consumption, particularly the increases in alcohol and tobacco consumption, indicate a potential personal debt and health crisis that must be tackled if society is to function.
Stability Programme Update shows why economy and society must be treated equally and addressed simultaneously
All plans for recovery from the present crisis must ensure that the economy and society are treated equally and addressed simultaneously. Analysing the Stability Programme Update (SPU) recently published by Government and reflecting on the commentary on its implications, it is clear that Ireland is in danger of repeating the mistakes of the past. One of the major lessons to be learned from the crisis of 2008/9 and the subsequent recovery is that giving priority to the economy over all else simply leads to some parts of society doing very well while great swathes are left further and further behind.
Acceptance of the need for new social contract warmly welcomed
The decision to put a new social contract and a focus on the wellbeing of Irish people at the heart of the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael Framework for a New Programme for Government is very welcome. So too is the assertion that there is no going back to the old way of doing things. The fact that the framework recognises the need for new, credible, quality-of-life measures of individual and societal wellbeing and progress, suggest that the next Programme for Government will go beyond economic priorities and targets and take a more holistic approach in its decision-making. Such a development would be very welcome.