Our health system is not perfect, say Dutch experts
Dr Ronan Boland pictured with his daughters Sorcha (9) and Aisling (6) after he was elected president of the IMO yesterday. Don MacMonagle
DUTCH experts yesterday pointed out flaws in their own country's much-vaunted health system -- which the Government hopes to replicate in Ireland.
Delegates at the Irish Medical Organisation conference heard about a range of problems in The Netherlands' health service -- which is paid for by mandatory universal health insurance.
These included delays to see a GP, brief consultations at surgeries and rising costs. However, the conference in Killarney also heard about one expatriate Irish woman's approval of the system in the Netherlands.
Patients in Holland can wait up to a week to see a GP and their consultation could last just 10 minutes, doctors were told yesterday.
Health Minister James Reilly has promised to borrow the system of compulsory health insurance in place in Holland and introduce it in some form, phasing it in from 2016. However, a presentation by a series of speakers from Holland to the annual meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation said that people in Holland who are entitled to free GP care can wait a day or two, or even a week for an appointment.
Irish journalist Lisa Matassa who now works in Holland said she was very pleased with the system in Holland but it was now coming under pressure, with people facing premium rises of around €150 a year.
Dutch GP Dr Wim Heres said the average consultation with patients lasted only around 10 minutes and they could not do many social visits.
"Many GPs want to spend time with patients but they cannot because it would see their income fall," he told the gathering.
The doctors earn €40 an hour before tax, while most specialists working in Holland are on salaries of €200,000.
Since the universal healthcare insurance was introduced in 2006, the number of health insurance companies has drastically reduced and several mergers have had to occur.
Dr H F van der Velden, a senior health policy analyst in Holland, said that the system was "really expensive" and healthcare costs had doubled since 2000.
Several Irish GPs attending the conference remain sceptical about the ability of the Government to afford free care for everyone by 2016.