Letters in the Irish Times, 6 July 2009

Posted in Book by saraburke on July 5, 2009

Madam, – The central tenet of Sara Burke’s article (Opinion, July 27th ) and indeed her excellent book is that there has been serious investment in the private for-profit health sector through the provision of tax relief, the national treatment purchase scheme etc. This investment has increased while the public health sector is slowly undermined. The investment is without any rigorous analysis of outcomes, benefits for users or value for money. Does Mr Stewart (July 1st) want Ms Burke to draw a diagram if he is confused? – Yours, etc,

GERARD DOYLE, Hazelbourne, Waterford. 

Madam, – Norman Stewart’s letter (July 1st) condemning Sara Burke’s excellent article (Opinion, June 27th) reveals that he at least is happy to treat people according to their financial means rather than their medical need. 

His ideology has blinkered him to the dire effects of the relatively small amount contributed by private patients to the total costs of healthcare being allowed shape our ‘two-tiered’ system. 

The real price is paid by thousands like Susy Long who suffer or in some cases lose their lives because of this uncivilised system. Just about 10 per cent of total healthcare costs is contributed by private health insurance. 

Instead of writing patronising and insulting letters about Ms Burke, Mr Stewart woulld be better employed reading her excellent book Irish Apartheid: Healthcare Inequality in Ireland. – Yours etc,

 DR FERGUS O’FERRALL, Adelaide Meath Hospital, Tallaght, Dublin 24.

Madam, – Your editorial (June 29th) states that the problems in healthcare are systemic rather than monetary – absolutley correct!In another publication recently it was stated that a quarter of beds in hospitals are blocked and that patients cannot be moved because there are no facilities to take them – absolutley incorrect! The facilities are there, in some cases the capital costs have even been financed by the HSE, but there is no budget allocation to fill these beds, even though it would cost considerably less to keep patients in these facilities rather than in acute hospitals.

So we have the situation where patients who need acute hospital care are unable to be admitted, with empty beds elsewhere. A systemic failure indeed! – Yours, etc,

JOHN DAVEY, Evesham, Kilternan, Co Dublin.

Madam, – I’d like to know what Gerry Burke (July 2nd) is really talking about, in terms of practical measures, in relation to public/private healthcare. Is he proposing that private healthcare be banned?

Is he suggesting that doctors who treat patients privately be sent to jail? Should the patients be jailed also?

What about patients who, unable to receive treatment from his proposed public-sector monopoly in Ireland, are forced to go abroad to be treated privately? Will the State take measures to stop them? Will we have a re-run of the Miss X and Miss C cases?

It’s all very well for Mr Burke to talk in vague generalities, but these need to be turned into practical reality. What would Mr Burke’s healthcare system look like in reality? – Yours, etc,

NORMAN STEWART, Seapark, Malahide, Co Dublin.

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