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Guest Post from Liz McManus

Read more about: Blogging, Coalition, Government, Irish Politics, Labour Party     Print This Post

[This post originally published on Feb 15 at the old site. Liz wrote this to commemorate our launch.]

Bloggers of the world unite! I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute to this blog. I’m relatively new to the whole blogging world but I’ve received a lot of positive feedback and, happily, the numbers of visitors is steadily increasing. While blogging is still at an early stage in Ireland in comparison to other countries, it is a growing trend. Many politicians aren’t aware of this medium as yet, but particularly in the run up to the General Election I imagine this blog will facilitate that.

Also, Ireland’s technology infrastructure or lack of it has ensured that we are behind many of our European neighbours in terms of Broadband and I suppose this is reflected in the fact that blogging is not as prevalent as it is in other countries.

For me, having a blog (which I’ve had since the summer and am still getting to grips with) is a wonderful way to interact with people. I love the ease with which it can be updated and how easy it is to post photographs. Mostly, I try to steer away from using it as a press release forum and hopefully as such it comes across as more personal. The message though is the same.

As the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and its Spokesperson on Health, I want to use the blog as another forum to highlight our vision for health services and the country in general – and as a forum for updating people on areas I’m involved in that don’t necessary get coverage elsewhere.

In relation to the health services, the message is clear and simple – that the delivery of a high quality health service to all who need it should be a key priority for any government at the highest level. I don’t believe that this government has shown any real interest or understanding of health policy.

Instead, I believe that we have a Minister for Health who is driven by a right wing ideology. This Minister’s love of the US model of health care and her desire to privatise turns patients into consumers and will result in a deepening of the existing two tier health service.

Her record of the last year as Minister, in a time of economic prosperity, has been dismal – some of which has covered on my blog. There has been utter failure to deal with the A&E crisis, to deliver badly needed medical cards, to improve services to the elderly, to combat hygiene issues in our hospitals and the list goes on.

I believe, and the Labour party believes, that only a change of Government will deliver the fresh thinking, the capacity building, the integration of the health service on a basis of need rather than income. I believe that the Labour Party can provide the visionary leadership that our health service so desperately needs.

Liz McManus

Liz McManus is Labour TD for Wicklow and blogs here.

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7 Responses to “Guest Post from Liz McManus”

  1. # Comment by Aidan OSullivan Mar 21st, 2006 17:03


    Congrats on being first TD up. I agree with your health service sentiments, but am a little bias being also a Labour member (Dublin SE).

    However, after living/working in the US and Europe, its very simple: let us copy health systems that work for all citizens e.g. in the Nordic countries and let us not go down the road of a failed two-tier system like the US.


  2. # Comment by simon Mar 21st, 2006 17:03

    Hey Aidan thanks for commenting. One of the things with the health systems in these other countries is that it is matched with economic model that don’t work. We should not be afraid to come up with our own type of systems. We are not doing to bad with the funding of the hospideal service we spend more then the NHS does pre-patient. But we are not getting the return. We need a massive overhaul of the health service not nessasarly much more spending. If the public-private hyprid system works. Then thats good too.

    We don’t need to copy other model nesscarly. Much of Europe is copying us.

    Anyway thanks for replying

  3. # Comment by Cian Mar 21st, 2006 17:03

    I can see what your saying, i think though that you are both right, much of the problem is the idea behind health. We have no forward direction, like the HS mantra “free at the point of use”. Instead health provision focuses on a backward facing ractionary approach. It leaves little time to improve and prevent when one is focussed on mopping up.
    In that the scandinavian model offers a great deal of help, giving guidance on how to attempt to move the delivery and setup foraward, and what conditions are needed to maintain it. Personally i think such conditions are the result of a national consensus/debate on the whole system.
    Simon is also right though, a system like ours can take on its own model, however the issue of private provision is vitally important. Where it has been majorly introduced we can see major issues in terms of provision and also cost:value to government. I think the role of private operators needs to be reconsidered and perhaps moved to a different model of intereaction.
    So there you go, both right.
    Labour incidentally pre-pact mooted a national universal insurance to follow the patient whereever they went, that seems like an emminently sensible idea.

  4. # Comment by Aidan OSullivan Mar 22nd, 2006 14:03

    Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the comment. Sorry, I meant to use the phase ‘learn from’ instead of ‘copy’. I understand the US has some of the best health centers in the world, and we can always learn from them. The private sector can and should always play a role.

    However, we need to agree (via a real national debate) about the principals we want to underpin our health service. Should all citizens be covered to a quality standard? Should younger generations help older generations (i.e. Risk Equalization)? During this debate we should look at the pros and cons of all models. The real danger (like in education) is when the vast middle classes start opting out of the public system. That starts the divsion of a two-tier system, which is very hard to prevent from expanding.

    Regarding economic models, I am sure you dont mean the Nordic countries, who having implemented real modern social democratic systems, have world leading economic performance. The serious problems France, Italy and Germany are facing are not mainly caused by health spending.

    Like a lot of areas, this government is spending a lot but not reforming first. I believe Labour should become the party of real reform, which yes means facing up to the various interest groups including the unions.


  5. # Comment by Aidan OSullivan Mar 22nd, 2006 15:03

    Relationship between economic model and health care systems…

    Bad For the Country

    By PAUL KRUGMAN (New York Times)
    Published: November 25, 2005

    ”What was good for our country,” a former president of General Motors once declared, ”was good for General Motors, and vice versa.” G.M., which has been losing billions, has announced that it will eliminate 30,000 jobs. Is what’s bad for General Motors bad for America?
    In this case, yes.

    Most commentary about G.M.’s troubles is resigned: pundits may regret the decline of a once-dominant company, but they don’t think anything can or should be done about it. And commentary from some conservatives has an unmistakable tone of satisfaction, a sense that uppity workers who joined a union and made demands are getting what they deserve.

    We shouldn’t be so complacent. I won’t defend the many bad decisions of G.M.’s management, or every demand made by the United Automobile Workers. But job losses at General Motors are part of the broader weakness of U.S. manufacturing, especially the part of U.S. manufacturing that offers workers decent wages and benefits. And some of that weakness reflects two big distortions in our economy: a dysfunctional health care system and an unsustainable trade deficit.

    According to A. T. Kearney, last year General Motors spent $1,500 per vehicle on health care. By contrast, Toyota spent only $201 per vehicle in North America, and $97 in Japan. If the United States had national health insurance, G.M. would be in much better shape than it is.

    Wouldn’t taxpayer-financed health insurance amount to a subsidy to the auto industry? Not really. Because most Americans believe that their fellow citizens are entitled to health care, and because our political system acts, however imperfectly, on that belief, tying health insurance to employment distorts the economy: it systematically discourages the creation of good jobs, the type of jobs that come with good benefits. And somebody ends up paying for health care anyway.

    In fact, many of the health care expenses G.M. will save by slashing employment will simply be pushed off onto taxpayers. Some former G.M. families will end up receiving Medicaid. Others will receive uncompensated care — for example, at emergency rooms — which ends up being paid for either by taxpayers or by those with insurance.

    Moreover, G.M.’s health care costs are so high in part because of the inefficiency of America’s fragmented health care system. We spend far more per person on medical care than countries with national health insurance, while getting worse results.

    About the trade deficit: These days the United States imports far more than it exports. Last year the trade deficit exceeded $600 billion. The flip side of the trade deficit is a reorientation of our economy away from industries that export or compete with imports, especially manufacturing, to industries that are insulated from foreign competition, such as housing. Since 2000, we’ve lost about three million jobs in manufacturing, while membership in the National Association of Realtors has risen 50 percent.

    The trade deficit isn’t sustainable. We can run huge deficits for the time being, because foreigners — in particular, foreign governments — are willing to lend us huge sums. But one of these days the easy credit will come to an end, and the United States will have to start paying its way in the world economy.

    To do that, we’ll have to reorient our economy back toward producing things we can export or use to replace imports. And that will mean pulling a lot of workers back into manufacturing. So the rapid downsizing of manufacturing since 2000 — of which G.M.’s job cuts are a symptom — amounts to dismantling a sector we’ll just have to rebuild a few years from now.

    I don’t want to attribute all of G.M.’s problems to our distorted economy. One of the plants G.M. plans to close is in Canada, which has national health insurance and ran a trade surplus last year. But the distortions in our economy clearly make G.M.’s problems worse.

    Dealing with our trade deficit is a tricky issue I’ll have to address another time. But G.M.’s woes are yet another reminder of the urgent need to fix our health care system. It’s long past time to move to a national system that would reduce cost, diminish the burden on employers who try to do the right thing and relieve working American families from the fear of lost coverage. Fixing health care would be good for General Motors, and good for the country.

  6. # Comment by Brian Boru Mar 25th, 2006 17:03

    Welcome to the blog Liz. Is it still Labour policy to introduce compulsory health-insurance? I disagree with you on Harney’s plan to build private hospitals on public-hospital land. It would take pressure off the public-hospital system. Maybe ideology is not just found on the right. :)

  7. # Comment by Azzurra Nov 5th, 2006 02:11

    Buon luogo, congratulazioni, il mio amico!