The future of healthcare

 

Sir, – The imminent publication of the report of the Houses of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare is awaited with interest and some trepidation.

Will it join the multiple other unimplemented reports on health of the last 40 years, or will the public simply refuse to accept current gross inequalities in healthcare provision and demand its implementation?

A key term of reference of the report is to “establish a universal single-tier service where patients are treated on the basis of health need rather than on ability to pay”.

This is not the case at present. Since 2014, Ireland has fallen from 14th to 21st in the Health Consumer Powerhouse rankings for healthcare in Europe, largely because we have one of the worst levels of access to healthcare. And it is not just a question of money – throughout Europe there is no relationship between GDP and access to health services. It is a scandal that over 40 per cent of Irish people take out private health insurance as the only way to achieve access to what should be their right.

Consistently, central European and Nordic countries score better than we do – and all have systems of universal healthcare.

Already the knives are out. As Pat Leahy has reported, even before the report is published, concerns have been expressed over plans to separate public and private healthcare (“Future of Healthcare committee to vote on public-private mix”, May 16th). In other words, already the fundamental and core principle in the terms of reference is being forgotten in squabbles about implementation of the report.

The upcoming annual report of the Adelaide Health Foundation will contain the following plea – “to address the political and societal impediments that have prevented the delivery of the equality and access recommended in every report on health since the 1970s”.

We have analysed these impediments elsewhere, but in the meantime a fundamental question remains.

Is it time for the people to demand an end to dithering and squabbling and require Government to get on with the progressive implementation of healthcare reform that actually delivers on equality and access? – Yours, etc,

Prof IAN GRAHAM,

Chairman,

Adelaide Health

Foundation Tallaght,

Dublin 24.