“Health policy needs to be more specific about the improvements in public health it seeks to achieve”.

Caring for Health in Ireland was launched by the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.  The document is a response to the health care reform outlined in the current Programme for Government and was inspired by key principles from Catholic social teaching: human dignity, the common good, participation, solidarity and subsidiarity.

Caring for Healthcare in Ireland analyses the current public health consultation, the proposed Universal Health Insurance scheme and related changes to the structure of the hospital system; mental health services; disability; older people; and palliative care.

According to the Bishop Raymond Field, chairman of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, “The issue of health care and justice has been a long-standing concern of the Council for Justice and Peace.  Lead author Professor Tony Fahey has brought valuable insights to this paper and was the driving force behind this response to the proposals for reform outlined in the Programme for Government.

Caring for Health in Ireland was developed following a consultation with religious congregations involved in health care provision.  Today we offer our thanks to the religious congregations involved in health care provision, some of whom are represented here.  In producing this document we wanted not only to draw on your experience, but also to honour your selfless contribution to the care of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. That example has created an important legacy which needs to be remembered and valued.”

Bishop Field continued, “A message that we want to convey strongly today is that our understanding of health has to be wider than health care and health services. A multi-dimensional approach is needed: for instance, one of the things we have highlighted in our document is the impact of education on the choices people make in relation to their health.”

Speaking at the launch Professor Tony Fahey said, “We have a massively inequitable and inefficient health services system.  The plans for reform contained in the Programme for Government make a welcome attempt to tackle many of the worst features of the system.  We support the general thrust of these plans, though their real merit will become evident only as the details of how the plans will be implemented are worked out.”

“However, the Council for Justice and Peace is concerned that the Government’s thinking pays too little attention to the social factors which affect health and focuses instead on a narrow health services view of health policy.  Medical services are only one of the factors that will help improve the health of our population in the years ahead.  We need a balanced approach that will give due attention to medical services but will also give proper weight to other factors such as educational disadvantage that also influence health.  What we need, therefore, is a health policy, not just a health services policy,” Professor Fahey said.

Click here to read the full text of “Caring for Health in Ireland”.