Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Questions (246)

Paudge Connolly

Question:

269 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is intended to establish the office of an older persons’ ombudsman to inform on advocacy, entitlement and rights; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14133/07]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

As the Deputy will be aware the Citizens Information Board is the national support agency responsible for supporting the provision of information, advice and advocacy on social services including Services for Older People.

A fundamental principle of the Health Service Reform Programme is to put the users of health and personal social services at the centre of the services.

The recently enacted Health Act 2007 is a central element of the Reform Programme and provides for the establishment of the Health Information and Quality Authority with the object of promoting safety and quality in the provision of health and personal social services for the benefit of the health and welfare of the public. An important function of the Authority is the setting of standards on safety and quality in relation to services providing by the Health Service Executive and service providers. The new Act also provides for the establishment of the Office of the Chief Inspector of Social Services with specific statutory functions for inspecting and registering residential centres for older people, including private nursing homes.

I should also mention that the Health Act 2004 — also an integral part of the Health Reform Programme — provides for a statutory complaints system for the public health service. The new complaints system is designed to ensure high and uniform standards of complaints management throughout the public health system. Regulations were made last year to fully implement this system from 1 January 2007.

Services for Older People are a priority for the Government. There are no plans to establish an office Ombudsman for Older People at this stage. The Deputy may be aware that my colleague the Minister for Health and Children has proposed the establishment of an Ombudsman for Older People in the course of the next Dáil.