Healthcare expenditure


Sir, – Prof David McConnell, in his interesting article on how we should now tackle Covid-19 in Ireland (“State must take lead in Europe and pursue a policy of zero Covid”, Opinion & Analysis, November 18th), makes the comment that “our health system has been underfunded”. One often hears such comments but for the past 20 years they do not accord with the facts.

The 2020 ESRI report “How Does Irish Healthcare Expenditure Compare Internationally?” by Maeve–Ann Wren and Aoife Fitzpatrick records that Ireland is not a low outlier on healthcare expenditure (HCE) within the EU. When expressed as a share of national income, Irish HCE ranks first in the EU-15 (pre-2003 accession states). When expressed per capita, with adjustment for relative prices, Irish HCE ranks ninth in the EU-15 (2017 data).

So, if our Irish healthcare system is performing poorly, this cannot be laid at the door of underfunding. – Yours, etc,


Emeritus Professor,

School of Biochemistry

and Cell Biology, UCC.