Press Release

Minister Martin Addresses the National Health Information Conference

Today the Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheal Martin addressed the National Health Information Conference. This Conference forms part of the consultation process for the development of a National Health Information Strategy announced by the Minister in April. The Conference Organisers are keen to ensure that as many stakeholders as possible are included in this and the subsequent consultation process.

The Minister stated that information is the first step in improving health. Irish health services and caring agencies have played a vital role over the last 150 years in improving the circumstances of people in Ireland, he said. Health services, however, can only do so much to improve the health of the population and other factors such as social deprivation, quality of housing, levels of education and lifestyle factors have a crucial role in health. Improving health therefore must involve improvement in health services and reduction in the factors that damage health.

The aim of this Government, said the Minister, was to place the patient at the centre of our health services. We wish to see services that accommodate patients, rather than the other way round and improved information must be used to improve care for the patient at the level of their hospital or their general practitioner. New systems that can allow the rapid transfer of information between hospitals, general practitioners and community services will help to ensure a patient centred focus.

This Government has increased health spending to previously unheard-of levels, stated Minister Martin. In the coming financial year, over £5B will be spent on health services and to ensure that this money is being used most effectively, we need to be able to measure the benefits of our services to the people of Ireland. The Minister was confident that the strategy that is developed as a result of this process would ensure this.

Experts in health information from international and national organisations gathered with delegates from health, information and consumer organisations to discuss ways of improving the quality of health information to guarantee that the best possible information was available to ensure effective policy making.

The proceedings of the Conference will be used to inform the Strategy Development process.