I didn’t believe it and, I’m sure, you won’t believe it either. Especially if you live in Ireland.

First, a bit of background information:

On average across EU member states, health spending per capita increased by 4.6% per year in real terms between 2000 and 2009, but this was followed by a reduction of 0.6% in 2010.

In Ireland, cuts in government spending drove total health spending per capita down by nearly 8% in 2010, compared with an average growth rate of 6.5% per year between 2000 and 2009.

Not such a big surprise here. While EU countries cut their health spending per capita by 0.6% between 2009 and 2010 as a consequence of the economic crisis, Ireland cut its health spending by a massive nearly 8%.

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But here is the mega surprise: Even after (!) those massive cuts, Ireland’s spending per capita was 2,862 euro – way above the EU average of 2,171 euro AND just below that of Sweden (2,894 euro) or Germany (3,337 euro) which has a much ‘older’ population than Ireland and would, therefore, ‘naturally’ have to spend more on health per capita.

So, Ireland spends as much as Sweden on health care, and not that much less than Germany. Yet, we all agree, including the Taoiseach or Prime Minister of the country, that health services in Ireland aren’t quite what is needed, to say it politely.

What does that mean? – Even a non-expert can draw the conclusion that there must be Massive (with a big ‘M’) inefficiencies in the Irish system. What other explanation could one have to explain that hundreds of people have to spend the nights on trolleys in accident and emergency. Or: why there is NO therapy for persons with serious acquired brain injury living at home – and almost none for those in nursing homes. Nursing Homes for the young ?!

Here’s a task for a new government. Here’s something each of us should tell the candidates who will come knocking at our doors, looking for a vote.

Pádraig is home. But without a home care package approved. Without the equipment he needs approved, never mind being ordered. We’ve been assured that this will all happen soon. In the meantime, we’re driving to the NRH most days of the week to get some hours of therapy for Pádraig. He’s fine, we’re less worried, but we need some routine, some re-asurance, a more regular day.

(Here is the link if you want to read up some details on health spending.)