I move amendment No. 1:
In page 3, before section 2, to insert the following new section:
2.—The Minister for Health, upon the commencement of this Act, shall cause to be undertaken a comprehensive monitoring and review of the implementation of the Act as it affects patient care at hospitals, which review shall be concluded after four months when its findings shall be presented and published in report form for consideration by the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children.".
I propose an amendment to this opening section of the Bill which is self-explanatory. It is essential there is proper oversight and monitoring of the implementation of this Bill, as the amendment clearly states. We are talking about NCHDs coming here in supervisory or supervised roles. There is a list of criteria for the conduct of the positions they are to fill over the duration of their service here. It is very important in the early stages of their introduction in service at hospital sites throughout the country that there is monitoring of and a report back in regard to the impact of their presence at various hospital sites, that it must be over a specified period of time — I have chosen a short but reasonable period of four months — and that the findings of that monitoring exercise and review would be presented not only to the Minister but would be published in report form for consideration by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children.
We are all committed to the passage of this legislation. What I have chosen to do is to endeavour to highlight what I believe to be a necessary undertaking on the Minister's part in regard to the outworking of the Bill's intent. I hope he recognises the value in having the new situation applying as of next Monday properly evaluated and that the impact in regard to patient care should be assessed not by observation alone but in consultation with patients in the various hospital settings where the NCHDs will present. That is in real terms a best practice approach and one that will highlight any deficiencies, weaknesses or flaws within the whole approach. I hope there will be none but there may be some. It is an efficient and effective way of learning what may be amiss and of having the problems addressed in the early stages in order that they do not become an issue or an ongoing sore over the course of the two year duration of the service of any of the NCHDs involved.
I commend the amendment to the Minister. I believe he will understand its purpose and intent, will view it positively and I await his response.