Martin announces £10 million investment for allied health professionals
The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin TD, today (21 June 2000) announced a significant package of measures aimed at increasing the numbers of allied health professionals and improving their working conditions. The £10 million will be used to implement the recommendations of the Report of the Expert Group on Various Health Professions.
The professionals covered include such grades as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, dieticians, social workers, chiropodists, care workers, orthoptists, audiologists and biochemists.
The Minister said that he is committed to increasing the numbers of allied health professionals in a planned manner and to improving their remuneration and working conditions in line with the Expert Group report.
“I regard the allied health professionals as pivotal to the health services,” said the Minister. “We must ensure that we have sufficient numbers of these personnel to provide a top quality service to patients, and we must structure their training and continuing development effectively. Today’s package of measures will go a long way towards meeting these objectives.”
- Government investment of £10 million per annum to implement the recent Report of the Expert Group on Various Health Professions. This will involve important initiatives in education and training, the establishment of common salary scales and the setting up of a Policy Unit to advise on the development of services provided by allied health professionals. “It’s my intention to increase significantly the number of these professionals in order to provide a modern, quality health service and a much more rewarding set of career paths,” said the Minister.
- Immediate workforce planning studies on the numbers required in specific grades to meet future demand for their services. Reports are expected within four months.
- Government commitment to introducing statutory registration for allied health professionals. Discussions are already underway with the professions and the objective is to bring proposals for legislation to the Government early next year..
- 18 more places in Irish colleges from October to train extra physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists – an increase of 15%.
“This is just the beginning of a process to increase significantly the availability of allied health professionals,” the Minister said today.
“My Department is in discussion with the University of Ulster in conjunction with the Higher Education Authority to achieve further places for therapy grades from October. Right now, we simply don’t have enough college places to provide sufficient numbers of health professionals to provide a quality service. I am also discussing the need for a significant increase in place numbers with the Minister for Education and the Higher Education Authority.
We not only need more place numbers – we may need additional training schools.”