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An internal, unpublished HSE report, titled the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise Performance Diagnostic Report, was obtained by the Medical Independent through a Freedom of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…)

Government’s lack of courage fails us all, but more importantly, our oldest and frailest citizens

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on July 21, 2015

Column from Irish Independent on 21 July 2015 on long-awaited, watered government review of the Nursing Home Support Scheme.

On February 12, Minister of State for Primary and Social Care Kathleen Lynch starkly told the Oireachtas Health Committee that the Nursing Home Support Scheme was “unsustainable in its present form… we have to take a serious look at the additional funding that will be needed”.


Hard choices to be made in the political parlour

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on July 9, 2015

Column from Irish Independent on 8 July 2015.

Game on for Budget 2016, with the impending general election in sight. Last Friday, Tánaiste Joan Burton warned interest groups at the Social Protection forum in Dublin Castle that “the Budget isn’t a parlour game in which everybody puts out what they would like”.


UHI — another broken promise

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on July 9, 2015

My Medical Independent column from 9 July on on the ESRI costings the government refuses to publish as they are the final nail in the universal health insurance coffin.

In the run-up to election 2011, it was hard to avoid Enda Kenny and his five-point plan — this was the plan that was going to solve all the country’s ills — a country that was in a very bleak place in the midst of an economic and social depression. Number five on the infamous five-point plan was a ‘completely new health system’, the major plank of which was the delivery of universal health insurance (UHI). (more…)

Straight-talking Leo must come clean on UHI cost

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on July 1, 2015

Column from Irish Independent on 1 July 2015.

Health minister Leo Varadkar is known for his straight-talking. But he is not being totally candid in relation to the cost of his own government’s Universal Health Insurance (UHI) policy. He is choosing not to publish detailed costings presented to him on May 21, 2015, which shows the Government’s model is overly expensive.

The ESRI costings, seen by the Irish Independent, reveal that Government’s flagship health project of UHI as promised in the Programme for Government would cost between 3.5pc and 10.7pc more than the current system. Critically, they find that the main drivers of the high costs would be the insurance companies’ profits and the fact that there would be multiple payers for healthcare in the form of competing health insurance companies.


If the government is serious about addressing mental health crises then 24/7 services are required

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on June 26, 2015

Op-ed from Irish Independent on 26 June 2015.

The Irish Independent revealed a series of incidents where people with serious mental health conditions were left waiting for appropriate care in one of the country’s busiest emergency departments (ED) in Beaumont Hospital.

The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly, by their very nature, crises often occur out of office hours. This is also true of mental health crises. Secondly, the failure of the HSE to deliver 24/7 mental health support services means that people with mental health crises still end up going to the EDs of our public hospital for help. These may be people who are having such a crisis for the first time, or people who are regular users of mental health services.


It’s tough at the bottom — what bullying surveys can tell us

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on June 25, 2015

Column from Medical Independent on 25 June on the high levels of bullying in the maternity services.

Half of all student midwives who responded to a recent survey felt victimised or bullied while on their work placements in the Coombe and the Rotunda maternity hospitals. Over three-quarters of them believed they were given responsibilities above their training or experience, while over two-thirds of them found that their degree programme was harmfully affecting their mental health and considered dropping out of their course. (more…)

From here to maternity

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on June 11, 2015

Recent Medical Independent column from 11 June 2015 on the urgent need for change in maternity services.

For anyone interested in learning how our health system fails people, there is no greater lesson than listening to testimonies at the Oireachtas Health Committee from parents whose babies died in Portlaoise.



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