Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

You are here Staff

Sara Burke
Research Fellow, Public Health & Primary Care


Dr Sara Burke is a health policy analyst, working as a research fellow in the Centre for Health Policy and Management, in the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin. She is the coordinator of a Health Research Board funded project called 'Mapping the pathways to universal healthcare' - In the first five months of 2017, Sara and her team worked with the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, who had a remit to develop a ten year plan for healthcare reform in Ireland - Prior to the Pathways research project Sara was a post-doc researcher on the Resilience of the Irish health system during the economic crisis. Sara is the lead on the health policy module on the SPHERE programme and the Centre's MSc in Health Services Management Sara has worked for 20 years as a researcher in and of health policy. Her book entitled Irish Apartheid, Healthcare Inequality in Ireland was published in 2009. She writes regularly on health system for the national newspapers and for seven years from 2008 to 2015 had a weekly health slot on RTE Radio 1's Drivetime programme. Her print journalism is on her blog

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Burke, S, Brugha, R, Thomas, S, The National Treatment Purchase Fund - A success for some patients yet a public policy failure? , Administration. Journal of the Institute of Public Administration of Ireland , 67, (2), 2019, p47 - 69 Journal Article, 2019 URL URL

Steve Thomas, Sarah Barry, Bridget Johnston, Sara Burke, Ireland's health care system and the crisis: a case study in the struggle for a capable welfare state, Anais do Instituto de Medicina Tropical , 17 (Supplement), (1), 2018, p27 - 36 Journal Article, 2018 URL

Burke, S, Brugha, R, Thomas S., It's the economy, stupid! When economics and politics override health policy goals - the case of tax reliefs to build private hospitals in Ireland in the early 2000s, HRB Open Research, 1, (1), 2018 Journal Article, 2018 Handle DOI

Sara Burke∗, Sarah Barry, Rikke Siersbaek, Bridget Johnston, Maebh Ní Fhallúin,Steve Thomas, Sláintecare - A ten-year plan to achieve universal healthcare inIreland, Health Policy, 2018 Journal Article, 2018

Barry. S., Harnett, P.J., Burke, S., Thomas, S., Evaluating the Implementation of Integrated Care for Older Persons as a path to Universal Health Care, International Journal of Integrated Care, 18th International Conference for Integrated Care, Utrecht, Holland, 23-25 May 2018, edited by Robin Miller & Viktoria Stein , 19, (00), International Federation for Integrated Care, 2018, pp00 - 00 Conference Paper, 2018

Barry. S., Burke, S., Boyce., M., Eustace-Cook, J., Normand, C., Thomas, S., Implementing Universal Healthcare implies Integrated Care Design - findings from a systematic review of the organisational challenges of implementing UHC policy, International Journal of Integrated Care, 17th International Conference for Integrated Care, Dublin, Ireland, 8-10 May 2017, edited by Robin Miller & Viktoria Stein , 17, (5), International Foundation for Integrated Care, 2017, ppA477 - A477 Conference Paper, 2017

Sarah Barry, Sara Burke, Ella Tyrrell, Steve Thomas,, 'Is someone going to saw off the plank behind me?' - Healthcare managers priorities, challenges and expectations for service delivery and transformation during economic crisis., Health Systems, Policy and Research, 4, (1:39), 2017, p1 - 7 Journal Article, 2017 TARA - Full Text URL

Burke S, Normand C, Barry S and Thomas S, From universal health insurance to universal healthcare? The shifting health policy landscape in Ireland since the economic crisis., Health Policy, 120, (3), 2016, p235 - 240 Journal Article, 2016 URL URL

Reform of the Irish Healthcare System: What Reform? in, editor(s)Murphy, M and Dukelow F. , The Irish Welfare State in the Twenty-First Century, Challenges and Change, Basingtoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, pp167 - 193, [Burke, Sara] Book Chapter, 2016

The impact of the financial crisis on the health system and health in Ireland in, editor(s)Maresso A, Mladovsky P, Thomson S, Sagan A, Karanikolos M, Richardson E, Cylus J, Evetovits T, Jowett M, Figueras J and Kluge H , Economic crisis, health systems and health in Europe: country experience, Copenhagen, Denmark, : WHO/ European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, 2015, [Anne Nolan, Sarah Barry, Sara Burke, Steve Thomas] Book Chapter, 2015 TARA - Full Text URL

Steve Thomas, Sara Burke, Sarah Barry, The Irish health-care system and austerity: sharing the pain, The Lancet, 383, (9928), 2014, p1545 - 1546 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

The impact of the financial crisis on the health system and health in Ireland in, editor(s)Maresso A, Mladovsky P, Thomson S, Sagan A, Karanikolos M, Richardson E, Cylus J, Evetovits T, Jowett M, Figueras J and Kluge H, eds , Economic crisis, health systems and health in Europe: country experience,, Copenhagen, World Health Organization - European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, 2014, pp1 - 42, [Nolan, Anne, Barry Sarah, Burke, Sara, Thomas, Steve] Book Chapter, 2014

Burke S, Thomas S, Barry S, Keegan C, Indicators of health system coverage and activity in Ireland during the economic crisis 2008-2014 - From 'more with less' to 'less with less'., Health policy (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 117, (3), 2014, p275-8 Journal Article, 2014 DOI TARA - Full Text

Lessons from the European Union. Case Study 1: The Economic Crisis and the Irish Health System: Assessing Resilience. in, editor(s)X Hou, E Velenyi, AS Yazbeck, RF Iunes, O Smith , Learning from Economic Downturns, How to Better Assess, Track and Mitigate the Impact on the Health Sector, Washington, The World Bank, 2013, pp155 - 161, [Burke S, Nolan A, Thomas, S, Barry, S] Book Chapter, 2013 TARA - Full Text

Steve Thomas. Sara Burke, Coping with Austerity in the Irish Health System, Eurohealth, 18, (1), 2012, p7 - 9 Journal Article, 2012

Burke, Sara., Boom to bust: its impact on Irish health policy and services., Irish Journal of Public Policy. , 2, (2), 2010 Journal Article, 2010

Research Expertise


  • Title
    • Mapping the Pathways to Universal Healthcare in Ireland
  • Summary
    • Ireland is unique among its European counterparts in that, unlike them, we have no universal access to healthcare. Since 2011, both Programmes for Government have committed to the goal of universal healthcare. Building on our prior work for the Resilience project, the Pathways project is mapping a potential pathway or pathways to universal healthcare through the three components of the research project: - Assessing the gap between current Irish health system performance and universal healthcare, using and adapting World Health Organisation concepts; - Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of different models of universal healthcare and assessing their feasibility of implementation within the current context according to key criteria such as affordability, human resources and complexity of design; - Assessing the organisational challenges of moving to universal healthcare by reviewing the experience of other countries and exploring the current capacity and constraints facing decision makers throughout the system.
  • Funding Agency
    • Health Research Board
  • Date From
    • 01/10/2014
  • Date To
    • 01/10/2018
  • Title
    • Resilience of the Irish Health System: Surviving and utilising the economic contraction
  • Summary
    • A new government came to power in Ireland in March 2011. Included in the Programme for Government were the most radical proposals for health policy reform since the foundation of the State in 1921. The new government promised to undo the unequal, unfair two tier system of healthcare, specifically committing to 'access to medical care based on medical need, not income'. It specified over 80 health policy commitments including free GP care for all by 2016 and the introduction of Universal Health Insurance during a second term in office. All this was pledged during the most severe economic crisis experienced by Ireland since the 1930s which led to significant budget cuts including cuts to the health system. The Resilience project 2011-2014 gathered a range of indicators to monitor how the health system coped during the crisis, as well as, carrying out qualitative interviews with key policy makers, politicians and health service leaders. A specific website was set up to disseminate information and findings from the project.
  • Funding Agency
    • Health Research Board
  • Date From
    • 01/01/2011
  • Date To
    • 01/01/2014


Health Care Policy; Health Care Reform; Health Planning/Policy; Health policy; Health policy analysis; Health system reform; Healthcare Policy Implications; POLICY ANALYSIS; Public Policy; Public Policy Systems Analysis; RESEARCH POLICY IMPLICATIONS