Press Release

Tánaiste announces the publication of the Health Bill 2004

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D., today (19 November 2004) announced the publication of the Health Bill 2004.  This provides for the establishment of the Health Service Executive on a statutory basis and provides for the abolition of the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the other health boards.

Announcing its publication, the Tánaiste said

“The key to the Health Bill is clarity:  clarity of roles and clarity of responsibility.

“The Minister for Health and Children will retain clear political responsibility for our health services.

“The Health Service Executive will manage the operations of our  health services, bringing together the current roles of the Health  Boards/ERHA and many agencies.

“The Department of Health and Children will be responsible for  supporting the Minister and the Government in all policy  matters.

“Most of all, the people will have clarity now about who is in  charge of policy and who is in charge of the management of health  services.”

Subject to Oireachtas approval, the Health Bill will pave the way for the establishment of the new Health Service Executive from 1 January 2005.  The Health Service Executive will manage and deliver health services on a national basis as a single unified system and will replace the health board structure which has been in place since 1970.

The Tánaiste continued

“The basis of this part of the Government’s Health Reform  Programme is to bring together and modernise our health services  management structures.  They are designed to achieve a health  service that places the patient at the centre, and ensures that all  patients receive the same high quality service based on need.

“A single management and delivery structure will also mean the  implementation of best practices nationwide for people.  The  Prospectus Report found that the current system was highly  fragmented thereby creating uncertainty among patients as to who was  responsible for delivering the service.”

The Bill also provides for the establishment of a statutory framework for complaints as provided for in the Health Strategy. Under this statutory framework, the Executive will be required to establish complaints and review procedures for dealing with complaints about it or about other service providers made by persons, who are dissatisfied with an action of the Executive or other service provider.

New mechanisms are being provided for in the Bill to enable public representatives and users to reflect their views on the delivery of health and personal social services to the Minister for Health and Children and the Executive.

Regional Health Forums comprising members of city and county councils within the functional area of the Forum will be established to afford those local public representatives with the opportunity to make representations to the Executive on the range and operation of health and personal social services within the Forum’s functional area.

The Executive will also be able to establish such mechanisms as it considers appropriate, including advisory panels, to assist it in seeking the views of local communities or other groups in relation to health and personal social services.  Such panels may consist of users of the services, service providers or other groups which the Executive considers appropriate.

The Tánaiste concluded

“I am confident that the establishment of the Health Service  Executive will lead to improved, integrated and high-quality patient  care while at the same time providing an improved working  environment for people working to provide health care.”

View a PDF of the Health Bill (as initiated)

View a PDF of the Explanatory Memorandum

You can view the progress of the Health Bill on the Oireachtas site