Irish Health System

What is a health system?

The World Health Organisation define a Health System as:

Health system: (i) all the activities whose primary purpose is to promote, restore and/or maintain health; (ii) the people, institutions and resources, arranged together in accordance with established policies, to improve the health of the population they serve, while responding to people’s legitimate expectations and protecting them against the cost of ill-health through a variety of activities whose primary intent is to improve health.”


Also see Wikipedia who offer this definition:

“A health system, also sometimes referred to as health care system or as healthcare system, is the organization of people, institutions, and resources that deliver health care services to meet the health needs of target populations.”

Photo of Simon Harris, Minister for Health
Simon Harris, Minister for Health (Image from Wikipedia Commons)

In Ireland, there are several organisations worth knowing about.  These are listed below, along with a short explanation of what they do.

Department of Health 

The Department of Health doesn’t generally provide services directly to the public. The Health Service Executive (HSE) is responsible for the provision of health and social services.  You will find reports, legislation and press releases on their site:

Hospital Groups

Hospital Groups were set up to move from central HSE services to independent health trusts. There’s a full report on how this new service will look, in this publication.

Health Information & Quality Authority (HIQA)

The Health Information and Quality Authority is an independent authority established to drive high-quality and safe care for people using health and social care services in Ireland.  Full details including reports they have produced, are available on their site:

Hospital Services

For a good overview of hospital services in Ireland, see the information provided on the Citizen’s Advice page


“The Future of Healthcare”

An Oireachtas Committee feat

uring all political parties brought out the SlainteCare Report in May 2017.  Chaired by Roisin Shortall, its aim is to “to ensure that, in future, everyone has access to an affordable, universal, single-tier healthcare system, in which patients are treated promptly on the basis of need, rather than ability to pay.”




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