I propose to take Questions Nos. 386 to 392, inclusive, together.
A Working Group was established in April 2019 to consider the range of policy, regulatory and legislative issues arising in relation to improving access to contraception. The Group was established as an internal Working Group and consists of officials from relevant policy areas within the Department of Health.
The Group is working to the following Terms of Reference:
- To conduct a rapid review of national and international literature on contraception and associated issues;
- To specifically examine the extent to which cost is a barrier to accessing reliable methods of contraception in Ireland and to consider whether there are other factors influencing access to contraception that could be addressed;
- To examine mechanisms to address any access issues identified, including financial, legislative, regulatory and contractual issues, as well as any other relevant matters;
- To consult with relevant stakeholders; and
- To make recommendations to the Minister on the optimal policy options and next steps.
These ToR have enabled the Group to consider the different issues raised by the Deputy, including considerations about the cost and efficacy of different contraceptive methods; the importance of informed decision-making; international comparators; and the potential role of and training requirements for healthcare professionals.
A public consultation exercise was conducted in July-August, and meetings have been held with various stakeholders, including the Irish Family Planning Association. A meeting with the Irish College of General Practitioners has also been scheduled.
The Group is continuing its deliberations and intends to report to the Minister shortly.