Big fall for Ireland in Euro health index

Tuesday 27th January 2015 - Deborah Condon , View Article Here

Ireland has fallen by eight places in a major European health index, coming in at 22nd place out of a possible 36.

According to the 2014 Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI), Ireland's ranking represents a ‘deep dive' from the 14th position it held in 2013.

It scored just 644 points out of a possible 1,000.

The Netherlands came out on top, scoring 898 points, followed by Switzerland, Norway and Finland.

This marks the 8th edition of the EHCI and it noted that overall in Europe, is spite of reduced spending on healthcare in many countries, healthcare performances are improving.

It pointed out that the first time the rankings were issued, just one country managed to score more than 800 points, but in 2014, nine countries managed this.

However it said that Ireland had taken a ‘sharp dive in 2014', getting fewer points and falling in the rankings. It explained that for a number of years now, Irish patient organisations ‘have been pessimistic in their responses to the patient survey conducted as part of EHCI research'.

"This has happened also in other countries, but then patients, with a slight time lag, have gradually become less negative. After six years of persistent patient criticism the official waiting list data (in Ireland) have lost credibility.

"As a matter of principle, in the EHCI 2014, it was decided to use the patient organisation feedback to score Ireland on waiting times. This accounts for the drop from rank 14 to 22," commented Dr Arne Bjornberg, chairman of Health Consumer Powerhouse, which carried out the research.

He described Ireland as a ‘strange artefact among the healthcare systems of north-western Europe'.

"Patient empowerment is on the level of Romania, waiting times as long as in Sweden, which is bad, and healthcare inequity is evident. Wide-spread duplicate healthcare insurance can be interpreted as an extreme case of dissatisfaction with the public system. Ireland should take radical action to improve patient information and empowerment and reduce waiting to the level of other EU members," Dr Bjornberg said.

Meanwhile in relation to abortion, the EHCI noted that while Ireland no longer has a ‘total ban, which is an improvement', the procedure ‘still requires approval by people who are frequently 50+ men'.

"This is a far cry from abortion being a woman's right," it added.

The 2014 EHCI was presented in Brussels in the presence of the EU Health Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis.

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