Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Medical Appointments.

1.

Dr. Browne, Mr. M. O'Leary

andDr. O'Connell asked the Taoiseach what is (a) the longest period, (b) the shortest period and (c) the average period involved in making a permanent medical appointment to the local authority health service taken from the period of notification of need by the health authority to notification by the Local Appointments Commission of the making of such an appointment, in respect of the years 1950, 1960 and 1965 and the most recent year available.

The reply to this question is in the form of a tabular statement which with your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to circulate with the Official Report.

Following is the statement:—

RECOMMENDATIONS in respect of medical appointments issued by the Local Appointments Commission in the years 1950, 1960, 1965 and 1969.

TABLE I.

Period from receipt of statutory request to issue of recommendation.

Year

Shortest Period

Average Period

Longest Period

(and main cause of delay)

1950

1½ months

See Note 1

30 months

(Post advertised twice).

1960

3 months

and

36 months

(Post advertised twice).

1965

2 months

Table II

59 months

(3rd recommendation: Action suspended by Department for 2½ years).

1969

5 months

75 months

(Post advertised ten times).

Notes: 1. Instead of average period a statement of actual periods is provided in Table II.

TABLE II.

Month after receipt of statutory request

Under 7 months

7th

8th

9th

10th

11th

12th

13th

14th

15th

16th

17th

18th

Over 18 months

Year

Number of recommendations issued

Total

1950

11

8

9

7

4

4

5

5

6

1

1

1

5

67

1960

13

9

4

9

6

5

8

4

1

3

7

69

1965

12

5

3

4

9

7

10

9

5

9

2

3

2

18

98

1969

1

1

9

9

5

5

3

1

2

1

10

40

2. In some of the cases included, the recommendation concerned was not the first recommendation issued in respect of the statutory request.

3. The time taken to make a recommendation is not entirely within the Commission's control. The minimum time necessary to make one, assuming that the post has to be advertised and that no difficulty arises, is estimated to be 5 months. In those cases where that figure was exceeded, it would have been due to reasons such as the following:—

(a) The need to advertise the post more than once because of the unavailability of qualified candidates.

(b) The candidate provisionally selected might have asked for time to decide whether or not he would accept appointment or to decide his preference as between a number of posts on offer and might have eventually decided not to accept. The process of selecting a replacement would then have to be begun afresh—and perhaps even repeated a number of times.

(c) The Local Authority or the Department might have asked the Commissioners to defer for a time action towards the selection of a candidate.

(d) Difficulty in completing membership of the Interview Board or in finding a meeting date which would suit all the members.

(e) Grouping of posts for interview purposes—to reduce expense and inconvenience.

(f) The settlement of the qualifications required or the terms of appointment might have taken more time than usual.

4. The Local Appointments Commission and the Civil Service Commission share a joint staff. There has been a considerable increase in the total volume of work handled by the Commissions and by the joint staff in recent years. In 1950, for example, a total of 3,587 application forms was received from candidates for interview-board selection: the comparable total in 1969 was 13,819, or nearly four times as many. The increasing pressure of work has contributed to the delays in the making of appointments generally in 1969. The joint staff has been increased and the staffing position is being kept under review.

Question No. 2 postponed.