Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (92)

Olivia Mitchell


205 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the aspects of the primary care strategy that will be put in place in 2004. [1537/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

In 2004 my Department, working in partnership with a range of interests, will continue to drive the implementation of the primary care strategy and to develop policy in this regard. The implementation process is being overseen by the national primary care steering group, which is representative of a wide range of stakeholders.

The detailed planning for implementation of the health services reform programme will allow the development of service delivery and administrative structures which best facilitate the implementation of the interdisciplinary model of primary care as an integral part of a whole-system approach to service delivery. My Department will also work with the East Coast Area Health Board and the Mid-Western Health Board on the development of primary care services in their regions as an essential component of the hospitals reform programme being undertaken in accordance with the recommendations of the national task force on medical staffing.

Work will also be undertaken by the health boards to further develop the ten primary care implementation projects — one in each health board area — which I have approved. These projects are building on the services and resources already in place in the locations involved so as to develop a primary care team in line with the multidisciplinary model described in the strategy. The necessary revenue funding to enable the appointment of the required additional personnel has been provided in each case. These projects are currently at different stages of development, with a number already providing new or enhanced primary care services to their target populations.

The primary care strategy indicated that a significant component of the development of primary care teams, in the short to medium term, would involve the reorientation of existing staff and resources. My Department has therefore asked the health boards to develop initiatives to give effect to multidisciplinary team-working on a more widespread basis. This will include reorganisation of current resources within primary care and community services and the development of collaborative initiatives between the providers of primary care services and with providers and users within the wider health system. In addition, the health boards have also been asked to complete a mapping exercise to plan the locations for future primary care teams and networks within their respective regions.

My Department is at present developing a policy document which is intended to expand upon the key principles in the strategy to assist in informing the process of forming primary care teams and networks on a system-wide basis. This document will be published in the course of 2004.

Work has been undertaken by the individual health boards on a highlevel needs assessment and, once completed, this will be followed by the development of appropriate templates to enable more detailed assessments to be undertaken at a local level. The future human resource requirements for the overall implementation of primary care policy will be informed by this needs assessment process and by the mapping exercises being conducted by each health board.