Press Release

Minister Martin Publishes Health (Amendment) Bill 2004

Mr. Micheál Martin, T.D., Minister for Health and Children, today (16 April, 2004), as part of the Health Service Reform Programme, announced the publication of the Health (Amendment) Bill, 2004, which will terminate the office of the members of the seven health boards, the Eastern Regional Health Authority and its three area health boards.

In addition to providing for the termination of office of the members, the Bill also assigns the functions, which are currently carried out by the members of the Boards to the Chief Executive Officers of the Boards and the Authority. These functions include the adoption of service plans, the annual accounts and the annual reports. The Bill assigns the power to appoint Chief Executive Officers to the Minister, on the advice of the Local Appointments Commission. It also provides for the amendment of the current provisions regarding the acquisition and disposal of property by the Health Boards and the Authority by introducing the requirement for the consent of the Minister for Health and Children before property can be acquired or disposed of.

The Minister emphasised that this Bill was an interim measure pending the completion of legislation to establish the Health Service Executive, to replace the existing health board structure, which is planned to be ready at the end of the year.

“This Bill represents a further phase of the implementation of the Reform Programme for the health services announced by the Government last June”, the Minister said. “The Reform Programme will build on the achievements made under the existing system, which were largely established in 1970, and modernise health structures so they can deal with the demands placed on the system and plan and deliver high quality health personal service now and over the coming decades”.

The Minister went on to thank all of the members of the ERHA and the Health Boards for their contribution to the health services over the years. However he was sure that most would agree that after thirty years there was a need to modernise the structures so as to achieve the objectives set in the Health Strategy ´Quality and Fairness´. The Minister added that he would be shortly bringing proposals to Government to address the issue of democratic input into the new health structures with a view to including these proposals in the further legislation currently being prepared.