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This document dating from 2004/5 and written by Dr. Peadar O Grady is a comprehensive pamphlet outlining in some detail the issues facing the Irish Health Service at a time when the Minister of Health was Mary Harney of the Progressive Democrats (in coalition with Fianna Fáil). Divided into four chapters it addresses ‘Why is the Health Service in Crisis?’, ‘Harney’s Ideology – Health and the Market’, ‘Who Profits?’ and ‘Capitalism and Health’.
It is notable as well for a preface written by Jo Tully of the Irish Nurses Organisation Executive writing in a personal capacity. She notes:
This pamphlet makes the case for a real fight to end the crisis and to stop the drive towards privatisation. It is an important contribution to the debate about defending health care as a public service that needs to be had, both in our unions and society as a whole.
The document is quite long but a sense of it is evident from the following quotes from the Introduction by Dr. O Grady where he notes:
We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world and have some of the besttrained and most dedicated health workers. Despite this many people live in fear of ill health and we are often overwhelmed by the tasks of caring for ourselves and our network of friends and family.
In the boom years of the Celtic Tiger, average income rose, unemployment fell and the population rose by 10 percent. There was a widespread expectation of major improvements in health and quality of life. The reality has been very different.
For many, low pay, rising prices, indirect taxes, long working hours, long commuting times and increased work pressures have resulted in increased levels of personal stress and a poor quality of life.
And a case is made for a genuinely national socialised health service.
Change from below could win a universal, comprehensive, world-class health service for every citizen, funded collectively, free at the point of use and democratically controlled by the people who use and provide services. This is whysocialists must support and help to build a mass popular movement for changing health and healthcare in Ireland.