Articles tagged with: Health Policy

Transforming Healthcare in Irish Prisons

on Friday, 12 October 2012. Posted in Issue 70 Prison Policy Matters , Penal Policy



There are fourteen prisons across the Republic of Ireland, catering mainly for men but also women (who represent around 3.5 per cent of the prison population) and young offenders. Most of these prisons are high security facilities – there are only two open prisons in the State, which cater for just over 5 per cent of prisoners. The most recent annual report of the Irish Prison Service shows that 17,318 people were committed to prison in 2011, an increase of 0.8 per cent on the 2010 total of 17,179.1


Public Participation:Involving Citizens in Designing Public Services

on Thursday, 29 September 2011. Posted in Issue 67 Questioning Drug Policy

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Public Participation: Involving Citizens in Designing Public Services


‘There is nothing so practical as a good theory’, the famous maxim of Kurt Lewin, has particular relevance for the reform of our public services. In that challenging task, there is need for a coherent theoretical perspective and clarity as to the fundamental goals we as a society wish to strive for in the coming decades. I want to argue for a radical new paradigm for public services and to describe such a paradigm. I will discuss the implications of this paradigm using the case example of health services and will seek to draw some broad applications for the community and voluntary sector in relation to the design and delivery of public services.

I believe that the OECD Public Management Review, Ireland: Towards an Integrated Public Service, completed in 2008, has a failed paradigm at the heart of the thinking it presents. The very opening sentence of the report is illustrative of this:

Ireland’s economic success story is one that many OECD countries would like to emulate. While the reasons underpinning Ireland’s success are varied, the Irish Public Service has played a central role in ensuring that the right economic, regulatory, educational and social conditions are in place to facilitate growth and development.1

Even without the benefit of hindsight, this would have to give rise to serious questioning.

Some Christian Perspectives on Health and Sickness

on Wednesday, 03 June 2009. Posted in Issue 60 Health Matters

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ
May, 2009

Some Christian Perspectives on Health and Sickness


‘There’s nowt so queer as folk’ – this, now non-politically correct, maxim from the North of England applies pretty well to the common human experience of taking good health for granted, while becoming anxious at the onset of illness. But, of course, there may be good reason for such anxiety – even minor ill-health causes inconvenience and loss of energy, while major illness, chronic or acute, brings great suffering and raises serious life and death questions. In what follows, I want to propose some Christian perspectives on health and sickness that may help to address some of the questions that arise at both a personal and a societal level.

Universal Health Insurance: What is it and would it be effective in Ireland?

on Wednesday, 03 June 2009. Posted in Issue 60 Health Matters

Fergus O’Ferrall
May, 2009

Universal Health Insurance: What is it and would it be effective in Ireland?

I\'m just sick

Are you VHI? Aviva? Quinn Health Care?

No, I'm just sick

© F.McGrath


The Irish health care system is failing to meet the needs and expectations of Irish people in so many different areas where care ought to be provided.1 Dominating a range of failures in the system is the fact that care is provided in an inequitable manner. This is despite the stated commitment of the 2001 Health Strategy, Quality and Fairness, and of its 1994 predecessor, Shaping a Healthier Future, that ‘equity’ would be one of the core values underpinning Irish health care.2

The most striking examples of lack of equity in the system occur in hospital care: in effect, people on higher incomes are treated in preference to poorer people in a system where capacity is not adequate to care for everyone at the point of need. In addition, the quality of service given to those who can afford to use private care is superior to that given to those who cannot afford it – in terms of speed of access, consultant care and accommodation.

Working Notes Issue 60 Editorial

on Wednesday, 03 June 2009. Posted in Issue 60 Health Matters

May, 2009


In a context of intense focus on the economic and financial difficulties facing the country, the Irish health system remains one of the few issues capable of taking centre stage in media and public discussion. We now find ourselves faced with not just the kind of health service crises that have characterised the past two decades but with new problems arising from the fact that the recession itself will have a major ‘health impact’.

Alcohol: A Key Public Health Issue

on Wednesday, 03 June 2009. Posted in Issue 60 Health Matters

Margaret Burns

May, 2009

Alcohol: A Key Public Health Issue

Off-licence sales of alcohol

Off-licence sales of alcohol have increased

© D. Speirs


The television documentary, When the Party’s Over, presented by Dr Mark Hamilton and broadcast on RTE just before Christmas 2008, provided many memorable images of Ireland’s current drinking habits and of the consequent impact on individuals and society as a whole.

One of the most striking features of the programme was the way it so clearly illustrated the fact that ‘ordinary social drinking’ as it has come to be defined in modern Ireland makes for levels of consumption that are well in excess of the limits for low-risk drinking advised by health authorities. It would appear that many people in Ireland would find themselves readily agreeing with the view of the young woman, quoted in a 2003 article in The Observer, who said: ‘That is not binge drinking. That’s called having a social life.’1

Irish Health Services: Money, Inequality and Politics

on Tuesday, 02 June 2009. Posted in Issue 60 Health Matters

Sara Burke

May 2009

Irish Health Services: Money, Inequality and Politics

Official reports on health

Some of the many official reports
on health



On 10 March 2009, the Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD, said in the Dáil that emerging pressures on the finances of the Health Service Executive (HSE) would mean that savings of €480 million would have to be made elsewhere in its budget over the course of the year. The HSE, however, said on 12 March 2009 that in order to meet the new pressures and stay within budget it would have to make savings in other areas amounting to over €1 billion.

The divergence in the projections as to the scale of the shortfall went largely unnoticed by politicians, the media and the public. A month later, in a statement issued following the Supplementary Budget of 7 April 2009, the Minister for Health and Children referred to the shortfall as amounting to €540 million.1

A Horrible Warning? Lessons for Ireland from Michael Moore’s Film, Sicko

on Friday, 26 October 2007. Posted in Issue 56 The Anniversary Issue

Review Article

Margaret Burns, Policy Officer, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice


pdf A Horrible Warning: Lessons for Ireland from Michael Moore’s Film, Sicko






Michael Moore’s film, Sicko, now on general release, dramatically highlights how the wealthiest country in the world, and one which spends a much larger percentage of its GDP on health than other developed countries, fails to provide an adequate and fair system of care for its citizens. The film carries its message through people’s own accounts of being denied medical care or being required to pay exorbitant amounts of money for services; it does so also through the voices of people who have worked in America’s health insurance industry and who reveal how, for that industry, the imperative of making profit takes precedence over enabling people to obtain care.


Alcohol and Drugs

on Thursday, 26 April 2007. Posted in Issue 55 The Election Issue, 2007

May, 2007


pdf Alcohol and Drugs 79.70 Kb

One of the notable features of prosperous Ireland has been its level of spending on alcohol and illegal drugs. The Strategic Task Force on Alcohol report of 2004 calculated that the country’s annual expenditure on alcohol of nearly €6 billion of personal income in 2002 represented €1,942 for every person over fifteen years of age.1


on Thursday, 26 April 2007. Posted in Issue 55 The Election Issue, 2007

May 2007

pdf Health 59.88 Kb

The Health of the Nation
Everyone agrees that ‘health’ will be one of the major issues in the coming General Election. In reality, however, it is not health but health services that will be the focus of debate. But the state of the nation’s health ought to merit some serious attention, and some promises of action, by those who would aspire to form the next government.

Mental Illness in Irish Prisons:

on Friday, 21 April 2006. Posted in Issue 52 Mental Illness in Irish Prisons: A Solitary Experience?, 2006

Eugene Quinn

April, 2006

Health Care Standards in Irish Prisons
In June 2004, the Irish Prison Service published a statement of Health Care Standards, covering the care of those detained in Irish prisons and places of detention. The core aims of the Standards are stated as being: "to provide prisoners with access to the same quality and range of instruments to which they would be eligible within the general community" and to give priority to the promotion of the health of prisoners.1  
These aims accord with Article 12 of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which recognises "the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health". Ireland has ratified the ICESCR, which under international law obliges the State to ensure that the rights enshrined in the Covenant are guaranteed for all persons in its territory.

Working Notes Issue 52 Editorial

on Friday, 21 April 2006. Posted in Issue 52 Mental Illness in Irish Prisons: A Solitary Experience?, 2006

April 2006

The Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, A Vision for Change, was published in January 2006. In his introduction, Tim O\'Malley TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for mental health, states that the Report is intended to set out "a comprehensive policy framework for our mental health services for the next 7-10 years".

Getting to Grips with Ireland's Alcohol Problems

on Thursday, 02 December 2004. Posted in Issue 49 The Garda Síochána Bill 2004 (Somone will be watching you!), 2004

November, 2004

Margaret Burns*

Urgent need for responsible attitude to drinkingRecent months have seen the publication of two important reports on alcohol in Irish society - the Report on Alcohol Misuse by Young People, issued by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children in June 2004, and the Second Report of the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol, which was published in September. (1)  These documents provide a wealth of information and analysis on the topic of alcohol in Ireland today and put forward a range of recommendations. They merit serious consideration by all concerned about health and social well-being in the newly-prosperous Ireland.

The 'Good News' - A More Just Health System

on Saturday, 05 July 2003. Posted in Issue 41 For Richer for Poorer: Three Issues of Fairness?, 2001

Seamus O'Gorman SJ, researcher at the CFJ and part-time theology lecturer at Milltown Institute asks some searching questions about our commitment to a fair health system.

1. Introduction: the promise of good news for the sick

'Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news brought to them'. Mt 11:5

Do Poor Children Deserve Perfect Teeth?

on Wednesday, 30 July 2003. Posted in Issue 31 Do Poor Children Deserve Perfect Teeth?, 1998

Bill Toner, SJ

March 1998


The current debate about the availability of free orthodontic treatment for children may seem a fairly trivial issue, compared with other problems facing our society. Yet it raises serious questions about our values, our priorities and our standards. Basically the background to this issue is that throughout the western world people are setting themselves ever more exacting standards in regard to personal appearance. Due to increased resources and new medical technology, \'blemishes\' which are accepted by one generation as a fact of life become less socially acceptable. Many conditions which are often \'corrected\' nowadays (such as eye squint, birthmark and hare-lip) were not always attended to in the past. For older people who can afford them there are a whole range of cosmetic \'improvements\' available, such as \'face-lifts\', hair replacement, silicon implants in breasts and so on. Currently there is a particular focus is on teeth. It appears that today\'s image-makers have decided that straight even teeth, with no gaps, should be the norm. This new standard is probably much influenced by American television, particularly soaps like Friends and Baywatch.

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We tend to think that law defines what crime is. This makes sense because contemporary legal codes are concerned with marking out the territory where conduct is permissible by specifying the conduct that is outlawed. Yet the earliest bodies of law – consider for example, the Torah or Hammurabi’s Code – are at least as committed to articulating the good as proscribing the bad... Read full editorial

Working Notes is a journal published by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The journal focuses on social, economic and theological analysis of Irish society. It has been produced since 1987.