Written Answers. - Patients' Charter.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

205 Ms Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will introduce a patients' charter for maternity patients; the reason this has not been done to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5072/00]

The Deputy will be aware that a charter of rights for hospital patients was introduced in August 1992. It provides guidelines for good standards of practice in acute hospitals, including maternity hospitals. Although the charter has no statutory basis, its objective is to ensure that the health service becomes more responsive to the needs of the individual patient and that there is a code of practice available which sets out what patients have a right to expect when they make use of hospital services.

The development of mechanisms for improvements in patient advocacy is an important task for my Department and in this regard, my objective is to provide a patient focused service, within which the priority must be equity of access to high quality of care, based on clinical need. The patients' charter was an important step in developing awareness of patients' rights and I intend to develop a comprehensive policy which will build on the good standards of practice which the charter provides.