A tale of two health services


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Once you begin to think about partition in terms of economics, all sorts of things jump up and demand attention.  Let’s take one example. On 15 April this year, the south’s Health Minister Leo Varadkar visited Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry. After talking with the north’s then- Health Minister Jim Wells, Varadkar said:

“Cross-border co-operation on health is one of the unsung successes of the Good Friday Agreement. People from Donegal will soon benefit from state of the art treatments for cancer and heart attack closer to home in Derry. At the same time, children from the North can have specialist heart surgery in Dublin and adults from south of the border can access Deep Brain Stimulation treatments in Belfast. There is even more scope for new exciting areas of future co-operation. We are an island of just over six million people and it makes sense to pool our resources to provide better health care for all our citizens”.

Actually Varadkar is over-egging the pudding: there is a range of other ways in which the south and the north could not just co-operate but unify (oops, hope that hasn’t upset anyone) the service they offer. Altnagelvin isn’t the only hospital near the border which could benefit people on both sides by co-ordinated or unitary planning. As Minister Varadkar says, there is considerable co-operation at present, much of it unsung. For example, a Belfast man I know – a unionist – needed a knee operation some months ago. Where did he have it done? In Mullingar. Was he irritated by this? Not one whit. He received the same level of care and attention that he would have received had the operation been done in Belfast. Almost certainly this was just one of many cases where a bottleneck in one treatment centre in the country was counter-balanced by taking up slack in another.

If we can get this commendable level of co-operation while maintaining two completely separate health services, think what could be achieved if we had one health service for all of Ireland.

One final point, a matter which puzzles me a little but which no doubt some of you will have an immediate answer to. The south spends more per capita on health than the north, yet few would say its health service is superior to that of the north. Why or how is that? Is it a case of kindly Mother Britain taking us under her health wing? Or another example of those incompetent, disorganised taigs south of the border who couldn’t run a raffle?

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4 Responses to A tale of two health services

  1. Iolar July 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    There is a fertile site for investigation in relation to the cost of prescribed medication. The cost of medication in Ireland has been multiples of those seen in other European countries. The cost of dental care varies in different European countries. Is it time to examine the profits of transnational corporations in the supply of prescribed medication throughout the European community? Perhaps some of the elected representatives who are advocating prescription charges might change their mantra from, “there is no more money” and provide the electorate with one rational economic reason why the island of Ireland requires two health services.

  2. Perkin Warbeck July 30, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    While reading today’s blog, Esteemed Blogmeister, one had one ear cocked in the direction of the wireless whence the foamy tones of one Peter Sutherland were heard to fume.

    Truly, was Suds, as he is affectionately known, in a lather over the movement of migrants across borders and the lack of consideration for same. He’s one to know. During his stint as Attorney General for the FG-Labour Coalition, it was noticeable that the political direction in which the winds of change were observed to blow tended not to vary.

    Involving the nocturnal handing over of Irish citizens,oops, hoods across the Black Sow’s Dyke to the British Allies of the FSS. These winds blew northerly, northerly. Less Kathleen Ferrier, and even less so, Cathleen Ni Houlihan. As became the policy planks of both parties in power for which the rejoining of the Commonwealth (British) has always been a central p.. Whether spoken or unspoken.

    If, as they say, health is the only wealth
    A United Irl. is being pursued by stealth
    Suds, of the land of spuds
    In his grey pinstriped duds
    Says no ! to a neo Irish Commonhealth.

    As the gigantic grey matter of Suds is in such global demand these days it is difficult to know where exactly he might be speaking from as more as more he is becoming to resemble Oberon in ‘The Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

    ‘We the globe can compass soon
    Swifter than the wandering moon’

    (Forgive these clunky lines EB, due to the lack of the DruidShakespeare text to hand).

    But regardless where the wandering tinsel dispenser may be his ‘country’ is never far from his thoughts and so, he is always ready to goodmouth it, courtesy of a compliant FSS media. Thus, he was able to distance his countrymen in his tirade against his fellow-continentals’ reluctance to welcome migrants aboard the Good Ship Europa, from the other dull sublunary bullies.

    -‘We are still the only country which does NOT have a racist, anti-immigration party !’.

    Orated Suds, with the very patriotic pride of he to be bursting his bosom and popping the buttons of his grey pinstriped duds.


    Could it be, that there is no need for one? Considering the culture of low-intensity racism is more than adequately catered for in those mouthpieces for the political hiatus quo, the purchased press and the bought broadcasters.

    Perish the unworthy thought (1) !

    While there is some doubt about what exactly the legally precise Suds meant by his reference to ‘country’ there is no such d. that the Free Southern Stateen is currently in the early stages of pre-Presidential Election mode.

    Perish the unworthy thought (2) !!

    Nevertheless, spin-doctors sans frontieres, North and South, are currently co-operating across the Black Sow’s Dyke.

    • Jude Collins July 30, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

      “the political hiatus quo, the purchased press and the bought broadcasters” – ah, ’tis lucky you are to be livin’ in such a land, Perkin, with the oppressor’s boot no longer on your chest. But you’re not…you can’t be…suggesting..that PS is…thinking of…the Park? Be still, my beating heart…

  3. Perkin Warbeck July 31, 2015 at 8:34 am #

    If you think that’s an appalling vista, Esteemed Blogmeister, wait till you hear: that’s only the half of it. The better half.

    Not only is Peter the Grate being earmarked for the Presidency of the Free Sutherland Stateen, and what a PS that would be to a stellar career which includes a cellar full of 27 Honorary Doctorates, One Chairmanship of Goldman Sachs (UK) but also an endorsement of The Tablet as ‘one of the most influential Catholics in the UK’. Not forgetting The Order for the Polar Star from the Swedish Government.

    (Which last may or may not be related to the S. Syndrome).

    Not only that but – gasp ! – Brian ‘the Malaise’ Hayes is being brainwashed for the Prime Ministership.

    Standard and Poor’s rate their chances very highly – and they should know S and P when they spot them.

    But the legendary dictum of Eamonn Kelly, the Kerry seanchai, is an even better reason to bet on their chances. Note how the designated duo are based overseas which facilitates their being out of sight, in of ear. Neither is ever off the radio in the FSS.

    That dictum: coimead do shuil ar an bpussy cat / keep you eye on the pussy cat: tis da wans ya don’t see, dems da wans ta watch.