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Defence Forces Recruitment

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 7 July 2010

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Ceisteanna (13, 14, 15)

P. J. Sheehan

Ceist:

27 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Defence the number of staff appointments recommended in the Defence Forces medical service review that have been made to date; scheduled to be made by September 2010; the timeframe in which he expects full implementation of this review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29978/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

35 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Defence when the central medical unit recommended by the PA Consulting Group review of services will be formally established; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29912/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

56 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Defence the progress made regarding the commitment given in the Renewed Programme for Government to develop the role and contribution of the Medical Corps to expand its capacity to deliver a range of medical facilities on UN-mandated missions. [30170/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (7 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Minister for Defence)

The PA Consulting Group report assessed the current arrangements for the provision of medical services and proposed a model for future delivery of those services. It recommended a programme of major change and working groups have been set up to progress the various projects identified. These continue to meet regularly and all have submitted reports.

The line officer, in the rank of colonel, to command the new centralised medical unit for the medical corps took up duty on 14 June 2010. He has the responsibility of implementing the model for the future medical service. PA did not identify structures, numbers and processes within the centralised command structure in detail.

The organisation and establishment working group was asked to recommend a structure to include staff appointments for the future medical service. It has now completed its final report, which has been submitted to the steering group for consideration and approval. Final reports from three of the working groups — training and education, financial arrangements and outsourcing, and organisation and establishment — have now been completed. The final report of the future medical information system working group will be completed in the next two weeks and, along with the other three final reports, will be considered by the steering group, with a decision expected by the end of this month. The clinical review working group is not due to submit its final report until 30 September 2010; however, monthly reports are being submitted in the interim. It is only following completion of this phase that full implementation of the PA recommendations can be achieved.

The process for implementation also requires that there must be consultation with the representative associations regarding any change within the scope of representation. It is expected that there will be substantial progress before the end of the year in implementing recommendations.

The development of the medical corps forms part of the agreed programme for Government. This includes the expansion of the capacity of the medical corps to deliver a range of medical facilities on UN-mandated missions. I am committed to providing a sustainable medical service to meet the needs of the Defence Forces both at home and abroad. The structure and systems recommended by PA have been designed to meet the demands and needs of the modern Defence Forces at home and overseas. I assure the House that Defence Forces personnel requiring medical treatment are getting the care they need.

Will there be one centralised medical command structure, as recommended, when all these reviews are completed? In addition, will there be a shift towards illness prevention and health promotion in the new structure?

Illness prevention and health promotion are dealt with quite positively in the Defence Forces. By definition, all members are within a particular age cohort — from late teens or early 20s to mid-50s — and are in good health when they join, based on medical checks. Thus, their requirements in the health area are quite different from those of the population at large. One of these is preparation for overseas service. I do not have any particular concerns in this regard.

As I mentioned, I am waiting for the fourth working group report, and the steering group has been meeting regularly, updating its information on the basis of recommendations. It has been a slow and somewhat fraught process. However, in the end, particularly after the last report is received in September, we will move towards a much better quality of service, perhaps along the lines the Deputy intends.

Since 1 January this year, how many people have left the medical corps for any reason? Has there been any new recruitment? Pending the implementation of the new structure, is the old structure becoming much less effective than it was? What has been happening in this regard?

I am pretty sure some people have left. I will obtain the exact numbers for the Deputy. Some have also been recruited during that period. It is an unusual medical area which is quite attractive to some, in terms of recruitment, and entirely unattractive to others. Recruitment is not as straightforward as one might expect.

What is the level of illness and injury in the Defence Forces?

Off the top of my head I could not say, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, but I will try to find out, although it will be difficult to obtain detailed information. When it is available I will send it to the Deputy.

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