Saturday 16 December 2017

Dead birds are raining on our ailing health system

Emergency department crises, insurance hikes and falling numbers of insured all spell disaster, writes John Crown

Recent reports that thousands of apparently healthy birds were falling dead from the sky were predictably interpreted by apocalypse junkies as signs of impending end times.

While these baffling events will likely have rational explanations and probably do not indicate the end of the world as we know it, three other ominous portents also occurred somewhat closer to home; portents of a real and credible future disaster -- a disaster facing our health services.

These signs were the record number of Irish hospital patients on trolleys in emergency departments around the country; the VHI seeking unprecedented rises in its premiums from its members, and the percentage of Irish patients with independent health insurance falling below 50 per cent. Any one of these events would be cause for concern. The juxtaposition of all three is terribly worrying.

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