Healthcare in Ireland is a Postcode Lottery

Written by
Piarais Neary on
16 March 2022

The Health Service Executive (HSE) report into the South Kerry child adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) demonstrates that health care in Ireland is a postcode lottery. The HSE report in its broader context highlights the failures of Sláintecare and the HSE in the management of public healthcare in the South West of the country.*

Poor Patient Outcomes in the Southwest

The increased volume of clients contacting our office over the past number of years, particularly from the southwest of Ireland, with issues relating to substandard medical care is deeply concerning. 

The hospitals in this region comprise Cork University and Maternity Hospital, University Hospital Waterford, University Hospital Kerry, South Tipperary General Hospital, South Infirmary Victoria Hospital, Bantry General Hospital, Mallow General Hospital and Lourdes Orthopaedic Hospital in Kilcreene. 

Since 2003, the State Claims Agency has paid out more than €638m on behalf of these hospitals. This is more than any other region in the country.

Simply, the right doctors need to be recruited to provide appropriate care to patients.

Disarray at the Top of the HSE

Considering the disarray at the top of the HSE, one cannot be surprised by the findings of substandard care as highlighted in the CAMHS report. 

“Sláintecare” is a government initiative, the aim of which is to achieve a single tier health care system, which provides access to services based on need rather than ability to pay. Five years into this initiative, it appears that the programme is under criticism from just about every party with whom it has involved. 

Doctors who were advisers to the programme have resigned due to alleged fundamental failures of governance, accountability and commitment to reforms. Members of the Oireachtas health committee have also questioned the level of commitment to Sláintecare reforms at a senior level in the Department of Health.

Consultants’ Rejection of Sláintecare contracts

93.7% of consultants would consider working abroad rather than accept Sláintecare contracts

A key component of the Sláintecare programme is to recruit consultants to provide excellent health service in order to avoid further incidents of the substandard care of the children in the South Kerry area. 

The HSE allocated a budget of twenty billion euros to recruit consultants for roles in public health. A study was published in the Journal of Medical and Health Studies in October 2021 in which 1109 doctors participated. 

The feedback was startling. 93.7% of consultants surveyed would consider working abroad if the proposed non-negotiated consultant contract, forming a key part of the Sláintecare plan, was implemented.

Listening to Those Providing Medical Care Will Lead to Better Patient Outcomes

Ireland provides excellent training to our doctors in world class universities, who are then overworked as junior doctors, alongside the other frontline staff, in our hospitals. It is now proposed that those doctors sign a non-negotiable contract with terms and conditions, which 93.7% consider unfavourable.  

This is on the backdrop of a creaking health service, overcrowding and ageing hospitals, which require significant upgrades for both the dignity of the individual patient and for better medical outcomes. Recruiting, retaining, supporting and listening to our doctors, and frontline staff in general, will go a long way to ensure that  patients receive good care and that we can avoid more mistakes like those which have affected the children of South Kerry. 

These issues are of no relevance to an individual who is ill and seeking treatment in one of our hospitals. People have a right to quality medical care. Reports like the CAHMS report and the increased number of calls to our office about substandard medical care across all services indicates that the HSE is failing in its duty to protect its staff, but also, with growing frequency, failing in its duty to provide a reasonable standard of medical care to its patients.

If you have experienced substandard healthcare, please contact our team to discuss your personal circumstances confidentially*. We are here to provide expert advice when you need it most.

Call us today on 1800 207 207 or contact us online.