Reasons to be hopeful for health in 2011…

Posted in Blog by saraburke on December 30, 2010

Despite the hefty cut to the health budget in the year ahead, the HSE Service Plan launched in Christmas week provides some rare optimism for 2011.


National Recovery Plan difficult for but maybe irrelevant for health

Posted in Blog by saraburke on November 26, 2010

The 4 year National Recovery Plan outlines budget cuts for health totalling €1.4 billion, 6,000 fewer staff in the public health system and patients having to pay more for essential health care. So how painful will it be in the years ahead for the health services? And will the policy aspirations actually happen given the inevitability of a change of government…



Rude health I: Mary Harney must go

Posted in Articles by saraburke on September 3, 2010

Here is my first column in Punt magazine: (more…)

HPV vaccine off to a good albeit jumpy, small start

Posted in Blog by saraburke on May 20, 2010

This week the HSE started vaccinating first year students in 20 schools around the country with the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is part of a national programme to prevent cervical cancer. Recommended by HIQA the introduction of this virus the minister oked it and then withdrew it and then reannounced it. So what’s happening… (more…)

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….


‘Proof that government of the people and by the people still works for the people’

Posted in Blog by saraburke on March 25, 2010

So said President Obama on Tuesday as he signed into law his new health insurance reforms. He said it was “vindication of the American dream“. The video of the White House signing of the law is a good watch but does Obama really deliver his promise of health care for all, or even health insurance cover for all? (more…)

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…)

My fantasy health budget

Posted in Blog by saraburke on November 19, 2009

The week began with Mary Harney saying that she and her Department are “looking at everything in the health service” in terms of cuts. That for the first time they “are looking at prescription charges, that a 50 cent charge may be imposed per item prescribed”. Instead of hitting the poor and the sick, here are some other political and economic choices that can be made… (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…)

What are the Greens up to?

Posted in Blog by saraburke on October 9, 2009

As the Green party team are deep in negotiation with Fianna Fáil over a new Programme for Government, one of their policy demands is a one tiered universal health system. What on earth are they at?

The policy demand of a one tiered universal health system was part of the leaked ‘early draft of a discussion document’ to the media. They are v cross about the leak. The Green party are refusing to comment on any content of the negotiations, as they don’t want to discuss deliberations in public. But they are not denying that it is in there either and referred me back to their health policy document. So what are the implications of this demand? (more…)