Written Answers. - Health Service Requirements.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

637 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on the need to review health service requirements in view of the population age profile, increases in population and existing services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2196/99]

I am very aware of the way in which health service requirements can be affected by population trends, in particular by the ongoing increase in the percentage of older persons and the increase in recent years in the number of births. These population trends are a major consideration in my Department's planning of health service developments generally. In this regard an important exercise which will commence shortly will review services for older people and related hospital services.

Service plans, which health boards are required to submit annually to me as Minister for Health and Children under the Health (Amendment) (No. 3) Act, 1996, provide an opportunity to review requirements across the range of health services. Reports of the Directors of Public Health also serve to draw attention to population and other trends with implications for health and health services. Population trends will inevitably be a significant factor which will be taken into account in my Department's review of the national health strategy.