Oireachtas committee healthcare report


Sir, – In case anyone reading the latest Oireachtas health committee report misunderstood the intention to do nothing, that body has kindly given its findings a 10-year timescale and made zero mention of how it would tackle the vested interests who like the health system in Ireland just the way it is. That way we know it is not serious about doing anything. The lack of ambition should embarrass its members.

The Beveridge report in the UK, setting out the template for the welfare state, was published in November 1942 in the middle of a world war. The war in Europe ended on May 8th, 1945, and the UK general election was held on July 5th, 1945. It resulted in a new Labour government that honoured its pledge to create a welfare state and faced down all the vested interests, including the very powerful British Medical Council, so that the National Health Service, free at the point of use, became effective on July 5th, 1948. This was at a time when the UK was physically, emotionally and financially destroyed after six long years of war and with years of rationing still to come. It was running an economy on empty kept alive at the whim of the US. Yet, despite all that, its political class still managed to create the welfare state.

But our political class does not face a fraction of the complex issues the class of 1945 faced, yet this is the best it can do.

No matter how low we set the bar for what we expect from our political class, it cannot even achieve that, but then again it does not get elected by magic. So which is the bigger disappointment, the politicians or the people who elect them? – Yours, etc,



Sir, – The Oireachtas health committee report stands as a wish-list of health recommendations that have been put forward for years. We are back to the future. The Alice in Wonderland costings of the report beggar belief. Free GP care will not be brought in at these numbers; it will have to be multiples of this.

The aim of free GP care for all, while laudable, would at the moment be catastrophic for the State in terms of cost. We currently have difficulty recruiting general practitioners and huge capacity issues.

Free GP care is ultimately required but this report is skimpy on detail, and we all know that the devil is in that detail.

The detail presented will result in another report in 10 years called “Where We All Went Wrong”.

Hasten slowly, please, on this one; it should not be an election promise. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Róisín Shortall’s report is a masterpiece of the genre – lofty on aspiration, hopelessly devoid of implementable detail or budgetary commitments and entirely unrealisable (“Now Ireland can have health service that works for all”, Opinion & Analysis, May 30th). She is to congratulated for adding to the canon of the many “game-changing” reports on Irish health system reform, all currently gathering dust.

Meantime, back in the real world, the massive capacity crisis in primary care and in elective and emergency secondary care continues to accelerate. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6W.

Sir, – We are a group of GPs working in disadvantaged areas, called Deep End Ireland. We welcome the Sláintecare report and its clear recognition of the health inequalities faced by communities on the margins either in deprived urban or isolated rural areas.

People living in disadvantaged areas die younger, develop chronic conditions earlier and are more likely to need emergency hospital admission.

Current Irish healthcare delivery does not recognise the increased health needs of our patients, and the two-tier funding system provides a further barrier.

We support the view that healthcare and the new GP contract need to be cognisant of providing and encouraging GP development in areas of high need.

We strongly support the need for financial-resource allocation tools that ensure an equitable distribution of resources and address health need, rather than geographic location or the ability to pay. – Yours, etc,





Deep End Ireland, Dublin 2.