Whisper it: Our health service is actually quite good.

red-crossNoel Whelan makes a very good point about cancer services in this piece, and also a general observation about media attitudes towards health-care in this country. It’s almost impossible to read a positive story in the Irish media about health services, or indeed hear the phrase “A&E” mentioned without  “crisis”, “third world” or “medieval”.

Yet here’s the funny thing: Talk to people with recent experience of the public health system, and you get a much more mixed picture. You still get nightmare stories about A&E from some people, about waiting for hours, and drunks and addicts fighting, and it does seem extraordinary that we can’t get a grip on that. But the fact is, the level of care you get once inside the system is good. I’ve seen it with my own family, in a public hospital. Do we have waiting lists? Yes, we do. That’s one of the side affects of having a health system that isn’t based on whether someone can afford treatment or not. Infinite demand meeting finite resources. Do other countries have lists as long as ours? No, but then they don’t have the best paid public medical professionals in Europe. We’ve created the health-care system we want, and you don’t hear health-care campaigners demanding cuts in the single biggest part of the health budget: pay. In Ireland, illness does not, for the most part, bring the total financial catastrophe that it brings in the US.  

Yet people are almost ashamed to admit it. I’ve seen people shouted down for daring to suggest that Irish healthcare isn’t bad. As a nation, we love to wallow in the idea that everything is f**ked and there’s nothing we can do about it.

When the Dutch were threatened with the sea wiping them off the face of the Earth, they elected competent governments that built dykes and actually made the sea retreat. We rotate the same inbred clowns (FF/FG: The Deliverance offspring of Irish politics) and then revel in what pathetic losers we are collectively. The Israelis don’t forget the Holocaust. But they’ve tooled up to ensure it’ll never happen again. We, on the other hand, almost rub our hands with glee at the opportunity to feel hard done by once again.

3 thoughts on “Whisper it: Our health service is actually quite good.

  1. I agree that the level of care across the board is better than I have experienced in any other European countries (and for some reason I’ve had cause to experience a fair few!), but this is all going to change if the HSE actually put into effect their plans concerning doctors’ hours (changing to less hours is fantastic, but the plan is to do this through introducing a shift system, which won’t allow anywhere near the same level of training that our junior doctors currently enjoy). I’m reliably informed that we are following in the footsteps of the emglish system, where interns need to do 2 rather than 1 years, and where consultants can’t do their job,all for lack of decent training.

    So I agree with your sentiments, but I think it would be short-sighted and even naive to assume that having good doctors and nurses means we have a decent system under which they can reach their full potential.

  2. What a great piece to put a smile on your face first thing in the morning!

    The Buzz Lightyear thrill of “infinite demand”, the Harneyan use of the royal “we” when it comes to the health service model pursued, the clever use of examples that are not really examples, the paper-waving Neville Chamberlainique optimism of “once you’re inside the system”, the casual disregard with which strawmen are mown down, the lung-bursting invocation of Godwin’s Law…

    Bravo, my good man, bravo!

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