Working Notes: Health Matters
In a context of intense focus on the economic and financial difficulties facing the country, the Irish health system remains one of the few issues capable of taking centre stage in media and public discussion. We now find ourselves faced with not just the kind of health service crises that have characterised the past two decades but with new problems arising from the fact that the recession itself will have a major ‘health impact’.
On the one hand, poverty and financial worries, anxiety about the future, and the stresses associated with joblessness are all likely to take a serious toll on people’s health. On the other, the need to address the deficit in the public finances will mean it will be harder and harder to sustain, let alone improve, health service provision.
This, then, hardly seems an opportune time to advocate radical reform of the health system. Yet the now oft-quoted comment of White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’, is a reminder that economic and social upheaval can bring an openness to critically assess existing policies and practices and to explore alternative approaches that previously might have been dismissed as unworkable or politically unacceptable.
Two of the contributors to this issue of Working Notes, Sara Burke and Fergus O’Ferrall, suggest that the economic and social crisis could provide the impetus to institute far-reaching change in the financing and delivery of health care in Ireland. They emphasise the need to seize the opportunity to finally move away from the current inequitable and inefficient two-tier structure and put in place a system of universal health care with equal access for all based on need, not income. Another of our contributors, Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, is also clear that change is required and says, ‘Our two-tier system in Ireland is a scandal: it offends against justice and the socially inclusive practice of Jesus Christ, and it requires radical reform.’... read more
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|Universal Health Insurance: What is it and would it be effective in Ireland?||Some Christian Perspectives on Health and Sickness|
|Irish Health Services: Money, Inequality and Politics||Alcohol: A Key Public Health Issue|
Posted in Health Policy News