Health Reform Alliance Think-in Report

In May 2016 the Health Reform Alliance (HRA) held in Think-in for those who were interested in learning more about the HRA

  • Principle 4 was voted as the most important principle to attendees.
  • The 5 HRA Principles were well understood. Suggestions were made for ways to refine and clarify the principles such as adding more definitions and distinctions between principles.
  • There was considerable focus on how to implement the 5 HRA Principles. Implementation strategies for individual principles and all 5 HRA Principles together often centred on adoption of a human rights approach (e.g. arguing for a right to healthcare), addressing cultural or attitudinal issues (e.g. identify current attitudes towards the healthcare system and universal healthcare, awareness raising on the benefits of a universal healthcare system), patient or public action (e.g. greater personal responsibility for health, mobilising a grass roots political movement) and institutional actions (e.g. greater interdepartmental and party thinking, longterm, well-resourced, realistic plans, restructuring of the current two-tier system).
  • Ideas for additional principles included a focus on quality of services, effective services and greater emphasis on the role of patients.
  • The 5 HRA Principles will be reviewed by the founding committee in light of the feedback and suggestions made by the attendees at the Think-in. Read more

Health Reform Alliance calls on Future of Healthcare Committee to offer vision for a universal healthcare system

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Leading Irish charities have come together to present a vision for health reform at the first public session of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, which has been tasked with developing a ten-year plan for the health system.

The Health Reform Alliance expressed the hope that the Committee can help achieve a universal, single-tier health and social care system in Ireland.

Cliona Loughnane, spokesperson for the Health Reform Alliance, said: “This Committee has a rare opportunity to shape health policy for the next ten years and beyond. We hope all members will work together to create the foundations for a health service that treats everyone equally, and where the ability to pay for healthcare is no longer a matter of life and death.”

“Real reform of the health and social care system cannot be achieved within five-year electoral cycles defined by hotchpotch, piecemeal changes. Vision and bravery is now required by all parties to establish consensus as to how to make our health system work best for those who need it most.”

Speaking at the Committee, Paul Gordon, a member of the Alliance’s executive, said: “The fact we are sitting here today reflects the acknowledgement that the partisan discourse of the past must be exactly that. It is incumbent on Committee members that they continue the good work we know they have been doing behind the scenes so far, and continue to collaborate to achieve a vision for a health and social care system we can be confident in.”

The Health Reform Alliance, launched at the beginning of 2016, to help set out a new vision for our health service, sees the main problem with the health system as a lack of universal access to health services.

Ms. Loughnane said: “Unlike the majority of Europe, Ireland has never developed universal access to health services. Our peculiar provision of healthcare is unique. It combines a lack of universal access to care with large out-of-pocket payments, and simply cannot meet the needs of the thousands of people across Ireland who depend on it every day.”

Ms. Loughnane called on committee members to “focus initially on the healthcare system to be delivered for people. Rather than putting the cart before the horse and devising a way to fund a system before deciding what we’re paying for, we’d urge members to consider what outcome we need to achieve.”

“The Health Reform Alliance believes that a reformed system should share the burden of illness collectively, where healthy people subsidise the sick and high income earners subsidise low earners.”

Dr. Marita O’Brien, also presenting on behalf of the Alliance, emphasised the need to design a vision for a health and social care system.

“In our current system, social care is seen as an individual responsibility subject to heavy means-testing. This means a lack of funding set aside for social care which can force families to place a loved one in residential care prematurely, when home help, day-care or respite could have kept them at home.”

“Increasingly, vital social care services are only available to those with the highest needs and lowest incomes, rather than as a universal service supporting the whole population. The divide between health and social care needs to be bridged”.

Acknowledging the challenges the Committee will face in the coming months as it prepares to report to the Oireachtas, the Health Reform Alliance commended Committee members on their work to date and in recognising the need for Cross-Party action.

Think In on Health Reform on May 12th @ 8.45am in Wood Quay, Dublin

Health Reform Alliance: Think in on Health Reform

Thursday, 12 May 2016 from 08:45 to 13:00

Wood Quay Venue, Dublin City Council Civic Offices, Dublin 8

In January 2016, the Health Reform Alliance (HRA) launched a Charter for reform of the health and social care system. This Think In event is designed to get wider feedback on the 5 principles outlined in the charter and to broaden membership of the HRA. This event will be of interest to public health campaigners, academics, health and social care professionals, NGOs and charities.

If you are interested in attending please confirm your attendance here

News Release Health campaigners come together to demand health and social care reform

A number of Ireland’s leading health charities, campaigners and academics today launched the Health Reform Alliance, setting out a charter of five core principles that include a call for a universal, publicly funded, healthcare system.

The current members of the alliance are the Adelaide Health Foundation, Age Action, Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Asthma Society of Ireland, Irish Cancer Society, Irish Heart Foundation and the Samaritans.

Rachel Wright, Chairperson of the Health Reform Alliance,said: “Ireland’s health and social care system is in crisis. It simply cannot meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands of people across Ireland who depend on it every day.

“Cuts in funding since the economic crisis have further restricted access to health services as hospital beds are closed, staff numbers are down and waiting lists grow ever longer.

“We must set out a new vision for our health service, one that treats everyone equally and guarantees our right to quality health and social care.”

Five key principles
Ahead of this year’s General Election the Health Reform Alliance is calling on political parties to set out their vision for healthcare in Ireland, one which the alliance says should be based on its five key principles:

• The health and social care system treats everyone equally.
• The health and social care system is focused on the needs of all social groups in society.
• People have an entitlement to health and social care, free at the point of access.
• The different elements of the health and social care system work together and are connected.
• The health and social care system is a universal, publicly funded system.

Ms Wright continued:“Our healthcare system is unfair, unequal and inefficient. Public patients are deprived of timely access to GPs and treatment, with some waiting months for diagnosis of life-limiting or threatening illnesses.

“Many of the less-well off in our society are condemned to die sooner by a two-tier system built on a principle of inequality.

“With plans for universal health insurance scrapped, it’s now time for political parties to refocus on the core question of how we can move forward and provide qualityhealth and social care for everybody in Irish society.

“This needs to be at the heart of the debate in the coming election. It needs to be central to the decision voters make on polling day.”

Wider debate
The alliance stressed the need to broaden out the debate on healthcare in Ireland, warning that it needed to focus on meeting the needs of everyone who uses our healthcare system and who relies on it.

Dr Catherine Darker, Adelaide Assistant Professor of Health Services,said: “All of us must join in the debate about how we provide health and social care. It can’t simply be left to policymakers and economists. Our health and social care system is often a matter of life and death.

“Everyone;patients, family members and the public, health workers and care providers, must be involved. However, there is a particular need for groups marginalised by our health service like Travellers or migrants, or those with specific needs like, older people or people with mental health problems or intellectual or physical disabilities, to have their voices heard.”

In the coming weeks the alliance hopes to engage with the various political parties ahead of a major conference on healthcare reform planned for May.

Note to editors
The full text of the Health Reform Alliance’s Charter is available online at
For more information or to arrange interviews please contact:

Kevin Kelly (Asthma Society) at 085 8520912
Justin Moran (Age Action) at 087 968 2449