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Ireland has one of the worst hospital waiting times in Europe

We also ranked the fifth worst for getting value out of the money we put into our healthcare system.

Image: Shutterstock/Tyler Olson

IRELAND HAS BEEN ranked as the country with the worst (or longest) waiting times in a comprehensive health study.

The 2016 European Health Consumer Index (EHCI) ranked Ireland 21st overall, out of 35 countries – which is the same ranking as last year‘s Index.

The study measured 48 indicators in various different groups, including treatment, results, waiting times, patient information, and was based on WHO and OECD research.

Ireland ranked 14th place in 2013 – and saw a significant drop once the study began including patient organisation feedback in their study, as a type of ‘reality check’.

The Irish Patients’ Association responded to the study by saying they hoped that this was “a watershed moment”.

“Accountability at all levels is required, and if there are ” any principalities of entitlement” which impact on, or block timely access to health care for any sick people they must be removed.”

The author of the study Dr Arne Bjornberg said on Morning Ireland that some countries didn’t have statistics on waiting lists because there was no waiting list for hospital care.

Last year, there was a quite remarkable HSE memo about a programme to reduce waiting times, for specialists. But even if that target is reached, it’s still the worst by far.

He said that trying to achieve an average waiting list time was difficult, but that Sweden, Poland and the UK were also ranked along Ireland as the countries with the worst waiting times.

Ireland was also the fifth worst country for ‘efficiency’, or “getting bang for your buck”, as Bjorgberg put it.

“We’ve taken the index scores and related them to spend per captia (Sweden don’t do well either). [This might be because] a lot of politicians who believe you save money with long waiting lists, when in reality they make things more expensive.”

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