- 23 Jun 03
The Irish health system and our attitude to the disabled desperately needs a rethink
We’ve had a lot of heat expended over the Irish health service over the last few years. You can take in the nurses’ strikes and the junior doctor dispute and now as I write, the public health doctors’ claim. Along the way we’ve also done deals with consultants and general practitioners. We’ve had health scandals (for example, the haemophiliacs treatment by the Blood Transfusions Board) and health tragedies. From alcohol policy to welfare services to children, the health system is involved everywhere. And it’s all over the place too.
Micheál Martin launched the Government’s health strategy over a year ago, apparently without the blessing of Charlie McCreevy. Health spending has gone up and up, and despite all the promises made about improvements, basically the health service is in shreds.
The contrast with Northern Ireland and most other industrialised countries is stark. Elsewhere, there is clarity and relative speed of response. Here, we have chaos. It has become like the justice system, where people don’t bother to report a lot of crime because it’s just not worth the hassle. Now, many don’t go for treatment, especially for non-life threatening ailments, because it just takes too long.