One island, two health systems

Sir, – If you are going to have a border poll to count how many people in Northern Ireland would opt for a united Ireland, you have to spell out what that united Ireland would look like. One important question would be, how would you merge the two different health services?

People in Northern Ireland are used to having timely access to a public health system that is free at the point of service. In the Republic, we have a similar system in principle, but delays in accessing it are so long that nearly half (46 per cent) of the population carry private health insurance, as well as paying the taxes that finance the public health system.

In effect, those of us who opt for private treatment are saving the public health sector from total collapse. If the public health service cannot treat just over half the population within acceptable time limits, can you imagine the chaos that would exist if they had to treat the whole population? The “Sláintecare” system devised by an all-party Dáil committee, backed up by substantial extra funding post-Covid, is intended to give everyone more equal access to early care, but no one seems confident that it will achieve its aims in the near future.

In the meantime, what are we going to say to the people of Northern Ireland? I think we had better delay this border poll for a decade or so! – Yours, etc,




Co Kerry.