PAC-ing a punch on HSE spending

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on November 5, 2015

Medical Independent column from 5 November 2015

Last month, HSE Director General Mr Tony O’Brien made his last appearance before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as the person with ultimate accountability for the health budget. This is because responsibility for the health budget was transferred from the HSE back to the Department of Health on 1 January 2015. (more…)

The real cost of being sick

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on October 22, 2015

My Medical Independent column from 22 October 2015
Everyone knows the Irish health system is complicated. It’s very hard for citizens to negotiate. Even health professionals find it infuriating to access services for people for whose care they are responsible. It is also well known that healthcare in Ireland is terribly unequal, that those with either cash or private health insurance can often secure faster access to essential diagnosis and treatment.


Despite this week’s ‘no-risk Budget’, our health service faces greater threat of cut

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on October 16, 2015

From the Irish Independent on 16 October 2015
Government spin doctors must be thrilled with themselves as they listen to the chorus of Budget 2016 being declared as ‘a Budget for everyone’. Even the usually cynical and numerate economic analysts heralded it as ‘a no-risk Budget’.But closer scrutiny of the health budget clearly shows this is not a Budget for everyone and there are huge risks for many citizens due to the choices made.


Next year will be the most difficult yet for health services

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on October 14, 2015

From the irish Independent on 14 October 2015

In the opening gambit for Budget 2016, Minister Michael Noonan promised “more doctors and nurses” as “sensible and affordable” measures. Minister Howlin hailed it as “the second budget in succession in which we are able to increase support for our public services”. (more…)

Plugging the black hole

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on October 8, 2015

Column from Medical Independent on 8 October 2015

When Leo Varadkar took up post as health minister, he prioritised securing an ‘adequate’ budget for health. He did this in the hope that he could break the cycle of over-spending in health. Come early December 2014, the rumours about the extent of the supplementary budget required for health were quashed when a whopping €680 million supplementary budget was announced.


Varadkar won’t fix issues in health service by ‘making heads roll’

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on September 30, 2015

From the Irish Independent on 30 September 2015

Leo Varadkar tends to be as straight-talking in his emails and texts as he is in person. In an email on September 4 sent to his adviser Brian Murphy, and copied to three senior HSE managers including HSE boss Tony O’Brien, Mr Varadkar made it perfectly clear that he wants a HSE head to roll if there are not tangible improvements in our overcrowded emergency departments.


Getting ready for action

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on September 24, 2015

Column from Medical Independent on 24 September 2015.

Ireland is often not the welcoming place it claims to be. Media images of refugees putting their lives at risk to get to Europe, and in particular the shocking sight of the dead body of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian washed up on the coast of Turkey, triggered a rush of good will from Irish citizens.The Government eventually announced that 4,000 refugees would be welcomed here under relocation and resettlement programmes over the next two years. So what are these refugees’ health needs and how will the Irish health system respond?  (more…)

Universal healthcare was promised but has not been delivered

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on September 21, 2015

Analysis from Irish Independent on 21 September 2015

An essential element of this Government’s 2011 promise of a ‘democratic revolution’ was a ‘universal single-tiered health service, which guarantees access based on need, not income’. It committed to do this through universal primary care and universal health insurance. (more…)

Unhealthy pre-election promises

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on September 10, 2015

Column from Medical Independent on 10 September 2015

With just six months, or less, to go before the next general election, where do the political parties stand on health? And what does that mean for the future of health services in Ireland? (more…)

A damning failure to act in Portlaoise

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on July 23, 2015

My Medical Independent column from 23 July 2015 on why the HSE and Department of Health failed to act, given that they knew certain Portlaoise services were dangerous a year before the HIQA report.

An internal, unpublished HSE report, titled the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise Performance Diagnostic Report, was obtained by the Medical Independent through a Freedom of Information request. It was cited regularly in the HIQA Portlaoise report, which investigated the safety, quality and standards of services in Portlaoise following the RTÉ Investigations Unit exposure of a series of babies’ deaths there. (more…)


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