Increasing healthcare demands 'should be prioritised as national emergency'
Health services face being "overwhelmed" unless a radically different approach is taken to funding them, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned.
The alert follows the publication of the Economic and Social Research Institute report Projects Of Demand For Healthcare In Ireland 2015-2030 which predicts increasing pressures on healthcare services.
Dr Ann Hogan, of the IMO, said she hoped the Government would "finally pay heed to the dangers ahead".
"We have warned repeatedly of the terrible challenges that lie ahead," she said, adding that the situation should be treated as a national emergency.
The report predicts that by 2030 the country's population will have grown by up to 1.1 million and the share of population aged 65 or over will increase from one in eight to one in six.
It also predicts the number of people aged over 85 will double.
Dr Hogan said that forecast increases in demand for health services would place intolerable pressure on the health services infrastructure.
She warned:" Our system can't cope with the level of demand we have now.
"Every sector of the health service is under-resourced and under pressure.
"Doctors are emigrating rather than work here.
"Patients are being forced into intolerable delays.
"Hospitals are operating at danger levels and GP services are being destroyed.
"We need to urgently prioritise this situation as a national emergency and plan accordingly."