The Fine Gael foundation document fails to provide a clear vision for a fair health service

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on April 9, 2016

Analysis from the Irish Independent on 9 April 2016

It seems like the drafters of Fine Gael’s ‘foundation document’ presented to Independent TDs last Tuesday live in a different world to most of us mere mortals. A cursory read of the health section would lead you to believe that we lived in a country with a decent health service. (more…)


To live longer, healthier lives require very different health and public policies

Posted in Uncategorized by saraburke on March 3, 2015

Column from the Irish Independent on 3 March 2015

So what would it take for Ireland to be the best little country in the world to be healthy in?

For a start, it would take all of us being more healthy, not just exercising more but eating less processed food and more home-cooked, fresh food; drinking much less alcohol; not smoking; looking after our mental health; being more caring of ourselves and each other. (more…)

Health system has tried to do more with less but it simply can’t take any more cuts

Posted in Articles by saraburke on April 11, 2014

Here is article I wrote for the Irish Independent on some of the key findings from the Resilience project. This is work I am doing with Prof Steve Thomas and Dr Sarah Barry in the Centre for Health Policy and Management in Trinity College Dublin. More info here . (more…)

Health in a time of austerity

Posted in Blog by saraburke on December 9, 2013

Here is my Medical Independent column from 29 August 2013. It is too early to say what effect the economic crisis is having on the nation’s health, despite recent claims in the BMJ. (more…)

Rude Health II: Pay for health, not sickness

Posted in Articles by saraburke on September 27, 2010

This is my second column in Punt magazine. See other posts for info on Punt and Rude Health I.

Why does Irish health system incentivise sickness rather than well-being? (more…)

HSE criticised over Public Dental Service

Posted in Articles by saraburke on October 27, 2009

THE HEALTH Service Executive (HSE) has been severely criticised for its failure to manage its own public dental service that provides free dental care for children, people with disabilities and older people in care. The criticisms are contained in a new report on the service. The Public Dental Service (PDS) has a budget of €60 million for 2009 and services are provided by 200 dentists, working as HSE employees.

The Department of Health appointed Dr Paul Batchelor, a London-based oral care consultant to write an Analysis and Evaluation of the Public Dental Service of the Health Service Executive , a copy of which has been seen by The Irish Times .

The evaluation report found “little evidence among senior levels of the HSE of a serious engagement to understand the operation of the PDS with a view to actively managing that part of the organisation, providing encouragement and knowledgeable direction. This lack of leadership at a national level is having a demoralising effect on the providers of the service.” It also found that “the most important factor inhibiting the introduction of improvement is the lack of clinical [dental] leadership in the PDS”.


Margaret Whitehead – a legend in health inequalities

Posted in Blog by saraburke on October 9, 2009

I had the honor of hearing Margaret Whitehead, professor of public health in Liverpool, speaking at a confernce in Belfast on 2 October. Whitehead is synonymous with strategies to reduce health inequalities and improve the health of the poorest. She wrote the follow up to the seminal Black Report in England which was the first official government report in the developed world to document the extent of health inequalities that existed between rich and poor. This work also made clear the social gradient that exists in health, ie the more income you earn and the higher you are up the social scale, the better your health. Whitehead’s book ‘The Health Divide’ which also included the Black Report was a classic Penguin best seller and sold well over 100,000 copies – a very unusual achievement in public health literature. Here are some of the interesting points she made in Belfast  and some quick thoughts of mine on strategies (or lack of them) to reduce health inequalities in Ireland, North and South. (more…)