Irish healthcare system rated 15th in Europe


Ireland is now ranked as having the 15th most consumer-friendly healthcare system in Europe, up one place on last year, according to a new study.

The 2008 Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI), which was launched today in Brussels, shows the Netherlands leading the ranking of 31 countries with a score of 839 points out of a possible 1,000. It is followed by Denmark, Austria, Luxemburg and Sweden.

In six categories, covering 34 performance indicators, Ireland scored 643 points out of a possible 1,000, placing it at 15th in the rankings. These six categories cover waiting times for treatment, e-health, outcomes, patient’s rights and information and the range and reach of services.

In 2006, there was public outcry when Ireland was ranked 25th out of 26th states for its healthcare system in the index.

Ireland was ranked bottom of the rankings last year when it came to waiting times for patients to access services.

According to the latest rankings, there have been significant improvements in waiting times over the last few years with Ireland scoring highly for waiting times for major not-acute operations in particular. However, Ireland scored poorly for direct access to specialists, cancer therapy and MRI scans.

"The Health Service Executive (HSE) reform seems to have started improving a historically dismal performance. The severe waiting list problems seem to be improving, and so are outcomes," the report said.

“We can notice some improvements with regards to outcomes, which is always considered the most vital area of the index,” added Dr Arne Bjornberg, research director for the EHCI.

Nonetheless, the report authors suggested that more should be done to cut waiting times for most treatments. It also recommended the introduction of a patient’s rights law and said that Ireland should make more inroads in terms of e-health.

First published in 2005, the EHCI is sourced from public statistics and independent research.