Department of Health and Children challenges validity of survey on Irish healthcare

27 June 2006

The Department of Health and Children today challenged the validity of the Euro Health Consumer Index 2006 as the basis for a proper analysis and international comparison of the healthcare system in Ireland.

Cross-national comparisons of healthcare systems, outcomes and delivery are notoriously difficult and must be based on standardised statistical indicators and data collection. There is no evidence that these fundamental methodological requirements have been met in this report. Indeed, the survey itself cautions that its results have to be treated with great care and that the conclusions to be drawn from it are very restricted.

In compiling the report there was no contact with the Department’s representative in Brussels and the Department has found no evidence of a request to it for information.

The Department welcomes and regularly takes part in established international surveys of our health system and these can be found in publications by the OECD, the WHO and other international bodies.

The data for Ireland would appear to be out of date and the report does not take into account the significant additional investment, reforms and service improvements which have been introduced in Ireland in recent years. As well as these obvious weaknesses, it is also clear that the survey simply got it wrong in relation to some of the measures for Ireland and fails to take account of the significantly and widely accepted indicators. These include:-