To what extent have cultural and ideological influences shaped contemporary health and social care service provision in Ireland?
This thesis is an investigative study of the Irish health care system within the academic discipline of political science. In particular, this analysis places significant emphasis on the theory and practice of ‘equality’ with regards to the concepts of access and entitlement to health care services. It also investigates the extent to which the drive towards achieving ‘efficiency’, in terms of the governance framework that oversees service delivery, has superseded the achievement of equality of access to health care provision. As such, emphasis is placed on accentuating how the instilment of ‘equality’ or an egalitarian ethos in the policymaking trajectory has paralleled with the infrastructural development of the Irish health service. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” (WHO, 2015) In this sense, health care provision as an idealism can be characterised as both a social right that every citizen in society should possess and an assurance that in times of illness and vulnerability social security is guaranteed. In democratic societies, the obligation to provide health care as a social right rests on both the state (through government bodies and insurance systems) which assumes or contracts this responsibility and all citizens in contributing through general taxation (Social Justice Ireland, 2015: 172). Moreover, a crucial fundamental to the realisation of this ‘obligation’ is the degree to which an egalitarian ethos is instilled in the policymaking environment.