A Travellerspoint blog

THE IRISH MEDICAL SYSTEM

The Irish don't know how lucky they are; they are forever complaining! Even if it is beautiful clear day they will complain about the bad weather yesterday!
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The public health system provides enormous benefits to those over 70, children and pregnant mothers; if you are unemployed or have a low income you are also entitled to carry a Medical Card. This entitles you to free consultations with GPs and specialists, free hospitalisation, free home visits and free medicines. And Oh Boy do people abuse it! It is common practice to come into the afterhours Caredoc centres with a cold that has been there for a week, or to request a housecall for minor complaints. Those not eligible for a Card pay €40-50 for a GP consultation, or €60 for an afterhours consultation or homevisit. There is no fee for pathology blood tests, one just pays the GP or a consultation, and everyone seems to have everything tested every time! And the government moans about the fiscal deficit!
Massive country-wide protests by over 70s about threatened withdrawal of their medical cards

Massive country-wide protests by over 70s about threatened withdrawal of their medical cards

The good thing is that everybody goes through the GP for everything; they are true "Gatekeepers". They know their patients well, as they remain registered with one GP, and they cannot see a consultant without a referral. The disadvantages of the system are that there are long waits to see consultants, and for operations and many stories in the newspapers about ill patients lying on trolleys in A & E for days waiting for beds.

GPs all seem to be busy and receive a capitation fee of about €300 per card-carrying patient per year. The government has just reduced this fee by 8% in their emergency budget, so the GPs are not happy [but still very comfortable!] If one has 3000-6000 patients on your list that is a very good guaranteed income! In addition you get paid for every vaccine given, every smear tested, and you can claim an extra fee for certain procedures, home visits and afterhours consultations. Added to that is the private income which is all cash. Many private patients have their own insurance which will reimburse about half the consultation fee.

The Irish are plagued with chest complaints and very demanding for antibiotics. There seems to be very little awareness of healthy diet and lifestyle effects on health. I have come across very few mothers who breastfeed even at 6 weeks. Everyone is smoking even with asthma and COAD. Haemachromatosis seems to be a common genetic problem due to inbreeding, and bloodletting is common practice in the GP surgery. I am not sure why it seems as if every second patient, young and old, is on Warfarin. Pathology and morbidity is generally high, and I am sure much of it could be prevented with more rigorous attention to lifestyle. Although many villages and towns boast an acupuncturist, there is very little awareness of complementary or alternative medicine. The magazines back home in SA promote far more lifestyle awareness than I have seen here.

Posted by davidsandi 12:03 Archived in Ireland

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