The Health service: a catalogue of crises and failures


1. The two-tier health system

Suzie Long's early and unnecessary death put a public face on Ireland's unequal two-tier health system. Public patients wait significantly longer to access essential medical services than people who can afford to pay privately.
The 2001 health strategy promised “equitable services on the basis of need”. Six years on, there has been no change in how public patients access services – access is still determined by ability to pay, not need.

Harney u-turn on disability care payments

At her final press briefing as Minister for Health in the last government, before the 21 May election, Mary Harney announced a u-turn on a recently introduced policy to charge 8,500 people with disabilities living in long term care between 50-70 per cent of their income for their care.

Radio: The nation's pulse rages

Sometimes Joe Duffy catches the pulse of the Irish nation and lets it beat with rage. He did this for three days last week with Rosie's story (Liveline, Monday to Friday, 1.45-3pm, RTÉ Radio1). Like half of the Irish population, Rosie does not have private health insurance. She had gone to her GP in the summer of 2005 with stomach trouble and was referred to the public health system for a colonoscopy. Her symptoms deteriorated and despite the urgency of her situation she had to wait seven months for the colonoscopy, by which time she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Radio: A chronic Christmas with Bertie and Enda

It's a time for family, to remember loved ones no longer with us, a time when families are coming home from abroad, a time for children, for pantomimes, for Grafton Street lights. Bertie Ahern can't remember who enjoyed it more, him or his children. So he told the nation in his ‘Christmas thoughts' slot on Drivetime with Mary Wilson (Weekdays 5-6.30pm, RTÉ Radio 1).