Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (633)

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

747 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if decisions have been made about the geographic areas to be covered by the area offices of the proposed Health Service Executive; and the criteria which have been, or will be, used in making these decisions. [1858/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

The Government has not made a decision on this matter to date. One of the specific issues referred to the interim Health Service Executive is to recommend regional boundaries and location of regional headquarters for primary, community and continuing care services and appropriate management structures.

A discussion paper on possible regional administrative boundaries has been prepared as part of Phase 1 of the implementation of the health reform programme. It is being made available to the board of the interim Health Services Executive shortly for their consideration. I am asking the board to give this particular aspect of its work some priority and to let me have its recommendations as early as possible for consideration by the Government.

It is clear that any evaluation of appropriate geographic boundaries for the four administrative regions should be based on evidence. The Deputy should note that the regional split refers to the primary, community and continuing care directorate of the Health Service Executive only. The initial discussions have considered possible criteria such as, for example, integration with the rest of the system with particular regard to acute hospital services, respect for existing community care structures and the national spatial strategy among others. I anticipate that the board of the interim Health Service Executive will give these, and possibly additional criteria, consideration as part of their examination of the issue.