I watched the Prime Time Special on healthcare last night where a fairly ordinary discussion on the Boston / Berlin dichotomy in health care was talked about. Examples of people all over the country were brought to bear to make some pretty simple points about what kind of Republic we want? I have a keen interest in this because one of my own parents has a degenerative disease, structured and tailored care for which cannot be received in this country. As I get older I realise that they too will have lived their entire lives without knowing a healthy Ireland.
Do we want a system of healthcare that means we pay a little bit more and everyone gets the care they need or do we farm it out to the private sector and let people purchase their own care according to their ability to pay? It seems the people want healthcare but Government after Government do not want to listen.
All in all it seemed like a drastic choice but one which, coming up to an election, we have to make and quickly. It is often said there are no easy answers to ‘fixing’ healthcare in Ireland. There may not be any easy answers but there are plenty of easy questions:
- why are private consultants still allowed to use public facilities to treat their patients?
- who benefits from the proposal to put private healthcare facilities alongside public ones?
- what happened to this Government’s primary healthcare strategy?
- why are hospitals being consolidated in the absence of primary healthcare facilities?
- why has the HSE hired 8,000 new staff in the last four years?
- why does the VHI continue to receive state support when all of those premiums could be fed back into the HSE?