The crisis in the Irish health service is bad and is getting worse. Three things happened in the media today that struck me about this.
1. Direct mail. My mother got a letter from her health insurer (government-owned VHI) suggesting that the next time she received an injury she should go to their new clinic instead of going to the regular hospital. This will cost her around 190 euros (the regular hospital is free or almost free). This cost isn’t covered by the VHI insurance. When a state company is sending out stuff like this, it undermines confidence in the whole system. My mother is disgusted by the stories of naked profiteering by doctors that she hears from her friends who have to attend them.
2. The radio. I heard more terrible stories about the problem of MRSA in hospitals. MRSA is a scourge of an infection that spreads mainly in hospitals, striking down the most ill people. A major cause for its spread appears to be the failure of hygenic procedures.
3. The papers. Every week in the Irish Times health supplement, one of Ireland’s leading cardiac surgeons, Maurice Neligan writes a column (subscription required). Instead of commenting on the filth of the hospitals and the two-tier system of care that means worse service for the less well off, he wrote about the manner in which he and his doctor colleagues organized overpriced Christmas dinners in order to fund a yearly trip abroad to play rugby. Everyone is entitled to run their own affairs as they seem fit, but as Mr Neligan portrays things, doctors seem like a boorish, chauvinist, ignorant crowd.
The government needs to sort this mess out. It can’t depend on the VHI or the doctors to do it for them.