Written Answers. - Hospital Doctors.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

279 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on a statement by a person (details supplied), that it is easier for doctors in voluntary hospitals to raise and pursue issues with more accessible management than doctors in health boards; and if he plans to rationalise the structures of the health boards as a result of this statement. [27430/01]

Best practice in the management of hospitals is an area which must be kept under review to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in delivery of service to patients. In this regard, my Department has been endeavouring to involve clinicians in the management process of hospitals and creating an environment where clinicians and administrators can engage in a positive manner for the benefit of patient care. In addition organisational management structures and their role in supporting the planning and delivery of services have been given careful consideration in the course of the preparation of the forthcoming health strategy.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

280 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on a recent statement by a person (details supplied) that in the light of the current economic slowdown, the changes to the health care system envisaged by the manpower forum report could take another five years to implement as the resources may not be available to bring about change. [27431/01]

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2001, the Government published the report of the medical manpower forum and the report of the joint steering group on the working hours of NCHDs. The Government also approved the establishment of a national task force on medical manpower to,inter alia, prepare a detailed implementation programme based on the recommendations of the report of the medical manpower forum and the requirement for a phased reduction in NCHD working hours under the EU working time directive – Council Directive 93/104/EC and 2000/34/EC.

The report of the forum on medical manpower stated that the "patient is entitled to the highest quality service within the available resources and resources must be used in the most efficient and effective manner possible"– section 3.1, page 15. The task force will engage in a detailed quantification of the resource implications, the number of staff and the costs involved. It is envisaged that the task force will hold its inaugural meeting shortly. Following quantification by the task force of the resources and costs, I will bring proposals to Government regarding the appropri ate measures to take, the timeframe associated and the necessary resources.
The Deputy will be aware that health is a key priority for this Government. The Government is committed to the implementation of the EU working time directive and has already approved the commencement of negotiations on a new contract for hospital consultants with the relevant medical organisations. Matters to be addressed include the core issues arising from the forum report and the report of the national joint steering group on the working hours of non-consultant hospital doctors, including flexibility/cover arrangements, team working, etc. and the issues highlighted in Report No. 38 of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Service.