Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (634)

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

748 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the provision being made to guarantee transparent accountability in the health service following the abolition of the health boards. [1859/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

Organisation reform is one of six frameworks for change identified in the national health strategy with the aim of providing a responsive, adaptable health system which meets the needs of the population effectively and at affordable cost. Both the prospectus report on audit of structures and functions in the health system and the report of the Commission on Financial Management and Control set out a series of measures to strengthen governance and accountability at every level in the system. The reform programme, based on the Government decision of 17 June 2003, incorporates the main conclusions from both reports.

As the Deputy is aware the reform programme includes: the establishment of a single national body for managing and delivering health services — the Health Service Executive; a new legislative framework which will clearly define the role, functions and accountability of all key actors; the establishment of the Health Information and Quality Authority; improved information and management systems; and a statutory framework for complaint procedures in the health services among other measures.

In regard to public accountability, the respective roles of the chief executive officer of the board of the Health Service Executive will be made explicit in the legislation to be introduced. I will also continue to be accountable to the Oireachtas in respect of my role and responsibilities and the relevant Oireachtas committees, for example, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children and the Committee of Public Accounts will continue to exercise their respective roles.

In regard to the involvement of public representatives at local level, I have indicated that I will be bringing forward proposals in this regard, building on the ideas already outlined for consultation at regional level. Proposals are being prepared in my Department and I have indicated my intention to discuss this matter with the Association of Health Boards at a meeting in the near future.