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Improving access to healthcare in Ireland: an implementation failure

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 August 2023

Sheelah Connolly*
Economic and Social Research Institute, Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin 2, Ireland Department of Economics, School of Social Science and Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland


There are significant barriers to accessing health and social care services in Ireland including high user charges, long waits and limited availability of some services. While a number of reform proposals have committed to improving access to health care, implementation of these proposals has been limited. The aim of this paper is to identify and discuss policy implementation failures concerned with improving access to health and social care services in Ireland. Four potential reasons for the repeated failure to implement stated reform proposals are identified including a failure to identify and address the practicalities of implementation, competing health care demands, the political cycle and stakeholder resistance. While there has been a shift in Irish health care policy documents in the last 10 years with increasing emphasis on ensuring access to health care based on need rather than ability to pay, a repeated failure to implement the proposed reforms raises questions as to whether there is a real commitment to improving access to health care.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press

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