Primary Care Centre Provision

Questions (481, 484)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

481. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health the role and services he expects primary care centres to play in the coming years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24251/14]

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Terence Flanagan

Question:

484. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if he has considered establishing 24 hour urgent care centres, community units to take X-rays and deal with stitches, broken limbs and so on and would take the pressure off accident and emergency units in our cities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24257/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 481 and 484 together.

International research shows that shared premises are a key enabler for successful team working in the primary care setting. Shared premises encourage and facilitate interaction across all health care professionals and that is why my Department and the HSE are committed to developing Primary Care Centres nationally. The Programme for Government highlights the expansion of Primary Care Centres as a priority within the health capital budget. The National Service Plan 2014 provides for the procurement of an additional 21 Primary Care Centres this year. This will create an environment for improved access which will facilitate structured approaches to chronic disease management, enhanced multidisciplinary team working, improved diagnostic capabilities in Primary Care and the integration of services between primary and secondary care.

The HSE's Primary Care Division is also working with the Clinical Strategy and Programmes Directorate to expand chronic disease prevention and management in primary care and this includes the development and roll out of improved access to diagnostic tests for GPs particularly ultrasound. This will greatly assist in early diagnosis, hospital avoidance, greater integrated care and a better, safer, patient experience. This initiative is currently at development stage and it is planned to roll out this service initially in two pilot sites in 2014.

Disability Support Services

Questions (482)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

482. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if he has considered dismantling the red tape in the disability sector by ceasing to fund section 39 groups and having the Health Service Executive take over the lead role; if he has considered having a one-stop-shop to deal with special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24252/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

There are no proposals to cease funding to any agencies providing health and personal services to people with disabilities. Section 39 of the Health Act 2004, empowers the Health Service Executive (HSE) to "give assistance to any person or body that provides or proposes to provide a service similar or ancillary to a service that the Executive may provide". Employees of Section 39 organisations are not public servants, are not subject to the standard salary scales for the health sector, are not counted in public service employment numbers and are not members of a public sector pension scheme. This provides Section 39 agencies with the freedom to exercise greater flexibility in respect of staff recruitment, deployment, pay and conditions.

The Service Level Arrangement or Grant Aid Agreement between the HSE and service providers governs the funding relationship between the relevant bodies. This agreement framework provides governance which links funding to a quantum of service and provides for these services to be linked to quality standards, with continuous monitoring to ensure equity, efficiency and effective use of available resources.

As part of this process, all Section 39 agencies are monitored via regular review meetings with HSE Management at Area and Regional level. These review meetings address financial reports, human resources, activity data, planning, review of agreed performance indicators and compliance with quality and standards etc. It must also be noted that Section 39 organisations may be involved in a range of other activities, which are not funded by the HSE.

The Government's plans for the reform of the health services, including the disability services, are set out in Future Health: A Strategic Framework for Reform of the Health Service 2012 - 2015. This document recognises that in order to improve services for the population and achieve the overarching objectives of the reform programme, we need real changes in the structures of the health system. Future Health describes the Government's plans for structural reform and outlines the phased approach which is being taken.

The Minister's key concerns in terms of structural reform are to promote good governance, avoid duplication and ensure a strong regional focus in managing performance and delivering value for money. The first phase of the transition process is aimed at: introducing revised governance and management structures, including the appointment of new national directors, in the HSE; the establishment of hospital groups on an administrative basis; revising the structures for delivering primary, social and mental health care to improve integration of services at the local level following a review of the Integrated Service Areas; and establishment of the new Child and Family Agency. I am happy to report that good progress has been made on these issues.

The second phase will involve the development of a formal purchaser / provider split and the establishment of the new structures to replace the HSE. As indicated, the plans for structural reform are not confined to hospital services and primary care, but will also apply to the social care sector.

Future Health commits to the development of a social and continuing care system that maximises independence and achieves value for the resources invested. This includes the reform of disability services in line with the findings of the Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services. Among the measures to be introduced as part of the reform process are the introduction of a standardised framework to commission services from both public and non-public providers; individualised budgeting to bring about a closer alignment between funding and the outcomes for individuals; and a robust regulatory regime to ensure quality and safety.

Disability Support Services Expenditure

Questions (483)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

483. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health the funding given to disability groups under section 39 in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24253/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

This question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.

Question No. 484 answered with Question No. 481.