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Can this book save HSE €3.5 billion?

27th April 2016

Flock off

It is pointed out in the media on occasions that our ISME blog can be, let us say, unusual in its approach to issues. But that’s because at ISME we want to contribute to the national debate in meaningful and constructive way, not to bleat like the sheep engaged in flock, or group, think. We want the nation to think differently, not accepting the same old, same old. Truth be told, we’re probably far more radical (Dict; favouring economic, political, or social changes of a sweeping or extreme nature) than the so-called radicals.

Health; a black hole

In round figures, of the State’s annual €52bn budget; we spend €13bn on health. This is a figure that just keeps growing because there is no end to what you can spend on health. There’s always a new machine, a new drug or a new care system…each of them costing millions and millions more. Doctors, whose new toys these are, are particularly good at hiding behind a fig leaf of being ‘for the patients’ when suggesting spending more public money. However, they rarely, if ever, question if there is better, cheaper, more cost effective way of doing things. Doctors are not trained in the basics of budgets.

7 day businesses why not hospitals?

Not unnaturally many attempts have been made to try to get efficiencies into the health system, including something as simple and blindingly obvious as using hospitals facilities to provide procedures on a seven-day a week basis. This could add up to 28% more capacity to the system overnight. Today our ‘eclectic’ blog wishes to draw your attention to a new award winning medical book. Written by London based Irish neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan ( @art_in_science ) her book ‘It’s all in your Head’ has been described as “…a book to start a revolution in healthcare, to make us see what no one has seen so clearly before.”

A €3.5 billion saving?

Dr. O’Sullivan claims the modern healthcare system is collapsing because of people experiencing physical illnesses that have no physical causes. The suffering is real; the causes may be subconscious and therefore the cures are wholly ineffective and wasteful. According to O’Sullivan the vast bulk of doctors spend up to a third of their time seeing people who don’t have physical disease just trying to reassure them about it. In the US it’s said this is costing the American healthcare system €228 billion. Comparisons are odious they say but on a pro-rata population basis, it could be costing the Irish system €3.5 billion or a full quarter of the health budget.

By the book

According to the book: “30% of those who go to rheumatology clinics suffer with pain for which medicine cannot account. 50% of those who go to a general medical clinic have symptoms that cannot be explained. 60% of women who go to see a gynaecologist have symptoms for which no cause is found. The impact of our emotional wellbeing on our health is not a trifling problem.”

Dr. O’Sullivan contends that if the medical profession treated the large number of people with these inexplicable symptoms differently “… and you treat people with this early on, you can completely avert years of hospital admissions and tests. I am in no doubt that to improve their care will save the NHS money.” @HSELive please note