27 Ean 2011, 12.11

Following over 90 meetings since its inception in 2007, the current Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children met for the final time this week. During its term, the Committee has examined a vast range of issues and brought to light some serious concerns.

This Committee was also significant as it was the first Health Committee to substantially scrutinise the work of the HSE and the new National Cancer Control Programme.

During the course of almost three and a half years, the Committee held quarterly meetings with the CEO of the HSE and the Minister for Health. Since the abolition of the old health board system these meetings were the principle forum which enabled public representatives from all parties to put issues of local and national importance to those charged with running Ireland’s health and social services.

The Committee proved itself to be an effective outlet to highlight particular weaknesses in the health system and apply pressure to help effect policy change.

Among some of the topics which the Committee successfully addressed during its tenure included;

Highlighting the unacceptable delay in processing medical cards and requesting urgent action which was subsequently forthcoming.
Helping to add impetus to the roll out of the primary care strategy by producing a report emphasising the requirements of an effective implementation.
Establishing a sub-committee on suicide prevention which helped to bring to light this grave problem.
Visiting and meeting with the management of Crumlin Children’s Hospital at a time when the hospital was in the spotlight for ward closures.
Examining the proposal to relocate the Central Mental Hospital to Thornton Hall. The original plan was eventually reversed.
Drawing attention to the plight of Asylum Seekers in some of the country’s reception centres.
Engaging with Prof Tom Keane, the head of the National Cancer Control Programme which helped give a thorough insight into radical new cancer treatment plans. 

Committee Chairman, Seán O’Fearghail TD said;
“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all my colleagues from all parties who served on the Committee during its existence. I believe we accomplished some major achievements and had some impact on shaping and influencing policy.

TDs and Senators gave a lot of their time to the Committee and often didn’t receive much recognition or acknowledgement for their contributions. While there are some limitations to the influence a Committee can exert, I believe this Committee has shown that with consistent collective action Committees can help to bring about real change, influence decisions and shine a bright light on issues that are often ignored.”

Daniel English
Oireachtas Communications Unit
01 618 4484
087 6949926

Full Membership of the Committee:
Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD, Fianna Fáil, (Chairman)
Jan O'Sullivan, Labour Party, (Vice Chairman)
Margaret Conlon, TD, Fianna Fáil
Kathleen Lynch, TD, Labour Party
Charlie Flanagan, TD, Fine Gael
Bobby Aylward, TD, Fianna Fáil
Niall Blaney, TD, Fianna Fáil
Denis Naughten, TD, Fine Gael
Beverley Flynn, TD, Fianna Fail
Dan Neville, TD, Fine Gael
Charlie O'Connor, TD Fianna Fáil
Rory O'Hanlon, TD, Fianna Fáil
James Reilly, TD, Fine Gael
Senator Geraldine Feeney, Fianna Fáil
Senator Frances Fitzgerald, Fine Gael
Senator Phil Prendergast, Labour Party
Senator Mary White, Fianna Fáil