A political show down on universal healthcare…

Posted in Blog by saraburke on April 19, 2010

So at last, the idea of universal healthcare is gaining public and political momentum in Ireland. Last week the Irish Medical Organisation launched a document on universal healthcare coverage and there was a conference on financing and organising social health insurance in Ireland organised by the Adelaide Hospital Society. So what did the respective bodies have to say and where do our political health leaders stand on these proposals?

For the first time in the history of the State, all opposition parties are in support of universal healthcare, albeit in very different ways. Minister Mary Harney remains utterly opposed to such proposals, Fianna Fail have no official health policy other than ‘government’ (ie Mary Harney’s) policy while the Greens position is utterly contradictory….



Is the emperor naked (are there really 222 primary care teams)?

Posted in Blog by saraburke on February 25, 2010

Over eight years on from the launch of the primary care strategy, there are 222 teams in place. They are where 90-95% of health care needs can be met and Brendan Drumm’s pet project. So what do these teams actually do? Do they really exist? And how widespread are they? (more…)

The Renewed Programme for Government – little new on health….

Posted in Blog by saraburke on October 16, 2009

The health section of the new Programme For Government has been called ‘all Fianna Fail’. But it is not all Fianna Fail, it’s all PD, with a few minor Green hints in it. It is PD health policy reflecting that we have had a PD minister for health for the last five years.

I presume the health section was written in its entirety by Oliver O’Conner who is Harney’s advisor in health. There are few new commitments in it, no costings, but there is no need for costings as there is little extra in it.

The leaked document by Irish Times’ Stephen Collins said the Greens were looking for a one tiered universal health system. And what did we get? The intro to the Renewed Programme for Government under health says “We will take further progressive, detailed steps towards building universal health services that provide high-quality care, fair access and affordability for all.” This is a far call from a commitment to introducing universal, one tiered, free care for all. More detail on the ‘Renewed Programme for Government’ here including colocation, cancer services, screening and vaccine, mental health and the Resource Allocation Working Group … (more…)

It’s the small (health) things that trip you (or at least the Government) up!

Posted in Blog by saraburke on September 18, 2009

Apparently at the Fianna Fáil think in earlier this week, there was a good bit of disgruntlement as to why the Minister of Health is not a Fianna Fáiler.. Where have they been? 

Politically, however, it is interesting times. If we think about the shelf life of this government. Many are saying, the government will not last til Christmas, and maybe they won’t. But usually in Irish politics, it is the small things that trip up coalition governments.

Yet, look at the current precarious, balance of power – the four Fianna Fail back benchers who are outside the party whip have all left on health related matters

  • Joe Behan resigned the whip when medical cards were withdrawn from over 70s last October 
  • Jim McDaid lost the whip when he opposed the u-turn on the cervical cancer vaccine last November 
  • Jimmy Devins and Eamon Scanlon in July when the withdrawal of cancer services from Sligo took place. 

Health issues could still be the stumbling block for the current government. What is also interesting is that now, for first time ever, all the opposition parties are unified in wanting a universal, one tiered health system, allbeit it in different, unworked out ways. 

This makes the work of the Expert Group on Resource Allocation and Financing all the more important. Announced on 1 April (no joke) and chaired by Frances Ruane, they have pretty limited terms of reference but they could be laying the foundation work for different times ahead…