Ireland falls in international health service rankings

Ireland slips eight places to 22nd in 2014 Euro Health Consumer Index

Ireland is ranked 22nd in the 2014 Euro Health Consumer Index, down from 14th the previous year. File photograph: Katrina Wittkamp/Getty Images

Ireland is ranked 22nd in the 2014 Euro Health Consumer Index, down from 14th the previous year. File photograph: Katrina Wittkamp/Getty Images

 

Ireland has tumbled down an international ranking of health services after its waiting list data was found to have lost credibility.

Ireland is ranked 22nd in the 2014 Euro Health Consumer Index, published Tuesday, down from 14th the previous year.

While overall healthcare performance in Europe has improved despite reduced spending in many countries, Ireland was one of the few states to lose ground.

The index says this is because it decided to use feedback from patient organisations in relation to waiting times rather than rely on official data.

It took this step after six years of persistent patient criticism, having decided the official waiting list data had “lost credibility”.

“Ireland is a strange artefact among the healthcare systems of northwestern Europe,” said Dr Arne Bjornberg, head researcher of the index.

“Patient empowerment is on the level of Romania, waiting times as long as in Sweden (which is bad!) and healthcare inequity is evident.”

‘Extreme dissatisfaction’

Dr Bjornberg said Ireland should take radical action to improve patient information and empowerment and reduce waiting to the level of other EU members.

While the level of hospital-acquired infection has fallen in Ireland in recent years, the improvement was not sufficient to escape a red score on this indicator, he said.

“Ireland has no longer a total ban on abortion, which is an improvement, but abortion still requires approval by people who are frequently [men aged] 50+ ... This is a far cry from abortion being a woman’s right,” he also commented.

The index, which is compiled from a combination of public statistics, patient polls and independent research, ranked the Netherlands first, followed by Switzerland, Norway, Finland and Denmark.

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