Friday 13 December 2019

True health costs

• The recent leaked troika report on Irish healthcare costs and effectiveness demonstrates that their opinions are based on exceptional statistics that do not represent reality and the misinterpretation of good data or good interpretation of poor data (or should we call it folklore), rather than critical analysis of all the facts.

Healthcare as well as social, education and economic factors influence the life expectancy in a country.

In 2000, the average life expectancy in Ireland at 76.6 years was below the OECD average of 77.1. Since then life expectancy in Ireland has exploded to 81 years in the most recent report, 1.5 years older than the OECD average.

The years 1980-2000 were dark ones for the health service when the proportion of GDP spent on health in Ireland fell by 23pc, while health funding increased slowly over the same period in most OECD countries. We played catch-up on funding during the Celtic Tiger years and by 2008 we had reached the OECD average, but then the GDP and GNP plummeted in 2009, thus artificially inflating the statistics.

In Ireland we believe in the equal treatment of both the born and unborn regardless of their well-being that is upheld by legislation.

Compared with other OECD countries, this is resulting in a much higher incidence of babies being born in Ireland with either fatal conditions that have no chance of survival or very significant congenital defects that require prolonged heroic surgical and medical intervention to keep them alive.

This is resulting in a small but significant effect on Irish perinatal mortality rates, premature death statistics and health resources and that is never accounted for in these reports.

These facts belie the claim that the Irish health service is overfunded relative to its productivity.

Dr William Behan
Walkinstown, Dublin 12

Irish Independent

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