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Our hospitals are BETTER; HEALTH SERVICE SHOCK.

Byline: SARAH STACK

IRELAND'S healthcare system has improved steadily over the last three years, European experts revealed yesterday.

The Euro Health Consumer Index ranked the service 13th out of 33 other European countries - up two places on last year.

Authors said the Irish health service scored 701 out of a possible 1,000 points and has been climbing in the EHCI. It stated: "The creation of the Health Service Executive (HSE) was obviously a muchneeded reform."

The Netherlands topped the survey with 875 points.

Ireland has jumped 15 places since the HSE's health transformation programme started in 2006 - when it was ranked 28th out of 29 European countries surveyed.

Professor Brendan Drumm, HSE chief executive, said staff should be pleased.

He added: "This year's ranking shows that our modernisation programme is working.

"As we continue to focus on more effective ways of working we expect that our ranking will continue to improve."

The EHCI has become a measurement standard for European healthcare, judging six areas key to the health consumer. They include patients' rights and information, e-Health, waiting times for treatment, treatment outcomes, range and reach of services provided and access to medication.

The results are compiled from public statistics, patient polls and independent research by the founders, Brussels-based think tank Health Consumer Powerhouse.

In seven health outcome measures Ireland scored top marks in four of them: Infant death per 1,000, cancer fiveyear survival, preventable years of life lost per 100,000 in the 0 to 69 group and percentage of diabetic population of patients with HbA1c levels above seven.

Prof Drumm said: "I am particularly pleased that we are making significant improvement in the health outcomes category which corresponds with the data that shows people in Ireland are living longer."

Elsewhere, the data showed that since 2006 many waiting times in Ireland have been declining. However Ireland performs poorest in ehealth, the electronic transfer of medical data, which the HSE said requires work.

Elsewhere the study warned large parts of Eastern and Central Europe seem to be affected by the financial crisis.

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PLEASED Prof Drumm
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 29, 2009
Words:349
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