Wednesday, March 01, 2006

un-health care...

While driving back from dropping the devil's offspring into school I found myself listening to a feature on the radio highlighting the extremely long wait that women in Ireland have to go through when awaiting the results of their smear test or mamograms. Now while I know of a lot of nicer ways to discuss a woman's genitals and mammaries I must admit that this discussion was "fascinating".
Can you believe that some women have to wait up to 6 months for an appointment to have a lump in their breasts checked out?! Or that once a test is carried out that it could take up to 4 months before one receives the results?
It is just plain f*cking ridiculous that in a country that has seen such a enormous economic growth in the last ten years (from the third world of Europe to the fastest growing economy) has a health care system that fails to perform on every front.
Don't get me wrong, it is not due to the people that work in the health service, the medical staff quite obviously try to do the best with the limited resources that are at their disposal.
The fault clearly lies with the government. The health services infrastructure and resources are seriously under-funded. And still the government fails to inject some of the budget surplus (4 billion euro or something in that region) into the health service.
Personally I put the blame 100% with Mary Harney. She is the minister of health so she is ultimately responsible for the lack of proper health care.
Just look at the Irish Health care system's latest track record:
  • The PPARS system: a payroll system for the health service. Estimated costs: 8.8 million euro. Ultimate costs: 231 million euro. And still the system doesn't work!!
  • Recently the HSE (Health Service Executive) admitted that something in the region of 40 million euro that was allocated for capital expenditure (i.e. long term investment) was used for operational expenditure (i.e. day to day running costs). The knock on effect of this will have a long term impact.

Those two examples would be enough to get someone in senior management in the private sector fired and possible prosecuted. What does "our" Mary do? She talks at length about the need to get to the bottom of this and to find out who is responsible.

What?! "who is responsible"?! YOU ARE! You are the person in charge of the health service and if you cannot prevent people in the health service to make major f*ck ups like this you should either resign or get fired.

Another great example of Mary's incompetence; because the governement has created a highly in-efficient public health care system they had the brilliant idea some years back to create a private health care system. Don't try to fix it, just create a parallel (and better) system for people with money. But instead of leaving the provision of these services to the private sector the government's set up VHI as a government owned private health care provider. Private sector but government owned and run; sounds logical to you?

Anyway, the VHI soon got competition in the form of BUPA, a wholely privately owned health care provider. Swiftly move on a few years and Bupa is the major player in the private health care system with better services and more profits. Everybody happy, right? WRONG. Along comes good old Mary. Not happy that the government gets to mis-spend our tax money on an in-efficient public health care system she is miffed that a lot of the private health care system's premiums do not end up in the government's coffers, she introduces something called "risk equalization". This basically would force Bupa the pay something in the region of 60 million euro a year to VHI because VHI has a less profitable membership base. So the profitable company is forced to prop up the badly run one. Make sense to you? If so please explain it to me because the logic escapes me...