Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Irish Health Service: On money spent it should be among world's best

If it was only spending money that mattered in delivering a key national social service, Ireland would have one of the best health services among rich countries - there is something rotten in the hybrid public-private system that 6 health ministers starting with Micheál Martin in early 2000, have been unable to fix. Stripping out inflation, total health spending per head doubled in Ireland and UK in 2000-2016 and rose 37% in Germany; 38% in Denmark and 25% in France.

Ireland in 2016 was among the richest countries on per capita spending (adjusted for price differences between countries PPS) according to the OECD: Ireland- US$5,528; Germany $5,551; Denmark $5,199; France $4,600; Sweden $5,487; Spain $3,248; UK $4192. Europe's richest countries Norway and Switzerland spent $6,647 and $7,919.

The US per capita spending in 2016 was $9,892 compared with Canada's $4,644.

The above data relate to current expenditure. On investment in capital equipment/infrastructure, for some of the boom years at 0.6% of GDP (this denominator is inflated by a third due to tax avoidance etc) we tracked Norway; it was at 0.51% in 2013; 0.46% in 2014 and 0.39% in 2015 (this was the year of Leprechaun Economics when Ireland's GDP jumped 26% - so the realistic ratio was higher), while Denmark and France were at above 0.60% in each year.

The above was a comment made in response to an Irish Times op-ed on Ireland's health service:

This is the winter our health system will finally collapse: The ineffectiveness of this year’s flu vaccines means hospitals will not be able to cope

Houses of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare Report, May 2017

Prof Sean Barrett of Trinity College, commented on The Irish Times' endorsement of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament's bicameral system) report:

In September 2016 the Irish health service had 105,886 staff compared to 50,671 in June 1988 but there were 117,000 fewer hospital bed days performed compared to three decades earlier.

Central Statistics Office on health care comparisons

EU health care statistics