Health Care for All in Ireland? The Consequences of Politics for Health Policy

  • Health Care in Ireland
  • Vivienne Byers
  • World Medical & Health Policy, March 2017, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1002/wmh3.217

What is it about?

The Irish Government committed to significant health reform to develop a single-tier health system. Common with other countries in Europe, the reform was based on the principle of fair access to health services based on need rather than ability to pay. The journey this reform took, followed by its failure, highlights difficulties with implementing health policy as well as making political choices in health care. This commentary and the story of this reform is important not only to examine financing and delivery in healthcare, but ultimately to look at the constraints in delivering national public health.

Why is it important?

This paper examines not only the financial and economic pressures on delivering accessible healthcare, but the public health implications of not doing so. The paper’s key contribution is to highlight the gap between stated aims of policy and real political intentions. This paper can be used as a point of reference for further discussion and research regarding successfully reforming healthcare to serve the common good.


Dr Vivienne Byers
National College of Ireland

Globally there is much debate about affordable accessible healthcare and how much nations can afford to spend in achieving this. This paper is written at an important juncture in health policy in Ireland looking at the importance of values in healthcare and yet the difficulty in achieving them. This has implications for the electorate who vote for political parties on the basis of core values (policy) and then receive a governmental program that lacks coherence (politics).

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