Press Release

Minister Harney announces a Public Consultation on the proposed Health Information Bill

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D., has announced a public consultation exercise on the proposed Health Information Bill which will deal with the collection, use, sharing, storage, disclosure and transfer of personal health information as well as the rights of individuals to control and access their health information.

The Minister stated that she wishes to obtain the views of the public and interested parties on this important legislation which is part of the ongoing Health Reform Programme. The views expressed in the consultation process will be taken on board in preparing the Bill.

The Minister set out the background to the Bill: “The objective of the current Health Reform Programme is to deliver better patient care and safety. This includes using information – in manual and electronic form – more effectively than previously to improve healthcare outcomes while ensuring that the privacy of personal health information is appropriately respected. ”

Accordingly, the main purposes of the proposed Bill will be:

•to establish a legislative framework to enable information –in whatever form- to be used to best effect to enhance medical care and patient safety throughout the health system,

•to facilitate the greater use of information technologies for better delivery of patient services, and

•to underpin an effective information governance structure for the health system generally.

The Minister added: “The consultation document sets out clearly the objectives that the Health Information Bill will seek to achieve and the issues that arise for consideration. In doing so, it draws heavily on national and international law, practice and experience in regulating personal health information.”

More information on the public consultation process, including the Discussion Document on the Bill and an accompanying Audit Paper setting out relevant key international instruments, national laws and guidelines relating to health information for Ireland and selected other countries is available on the Department of Health’s website.

The public consultation exercise will run until Thursday, 11 September 2008, and all submissions received will be subject to the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003.