Health funding – time for a rethink

Value for money

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

Sir, – Martin Wall writes on a report which shows that billions of euro in extra health funding is not leading to higher activity in hospitals (“Billions in extra health funding not leading to higher activity in hospitals, report finds”, News, April 15th). The health budget has increased by 66 per cent from €13.7 billion in 2014 to €22.8 billion in 2024. During that time headcount in our public health service has grown by more than 50,000.

But the analysis shows a large divergence on all sites between the growth in expenditure and workforce and the growth in activity in our hospitals. In some cases, the latter growth is negative! Put simply, in such cases inputs in terms of expenditure and headcount have increased but outputs – what we get more our money – have actually fallen.

The unfortunate taxpayer and the even more unfortunate among us who have to rely on our public health system have known for years that spending tens of billions of euro a year on our public health system while consistently failing to deliver on our most basic health needs can be explained only by gross mismanagement or non-management.

If we are serious about dealing with this nonsense, we must start there. – Yours, etc,

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PAT O’BRIEN,

Rathmines,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – The news that increased funding of our acute hospitals hasn’t led to a significant increase in productivity might serve to remind us that our current amazingly good life expectancy is mainly a result of factors outside of hospitals such as good sanitation, an educated population, successful vaccination programmes, greater safety consciousness and, of course, a good primary healthcare system.

Hospitals contribute relatively little to our global life expectancy when compared to the massive spending they incur, and not only do they soak up most of our money they also soak up all our attention. How often have we heard hospitals being praised for extending someone’s life by a year or two, yet have we ever heard praise of the vaccination service when someone reaches a ripe old age rather than succumbing to the diseases of youth?

Perhaps now is the time to exercise tighter control on our hospital spending and increase spending instead in the lower-cost areas where it gives greater value for money. – Yours, etc,

Dr TOM O’ROURKE,

Gorey,

Co Wexford.

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