Dáil Éireann - Volume 517 - 05 April, 2000

Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

70. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of meetings held by the structures sub-committee appointed by the Medical Manpower Forum; the dates of such meetings; if the members of that committee were fully consulted prior to the preparation of the draft first report of the forum; and the reason this sub-committee was inactivated without explanation being given to its members. [9766/00]

212. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of meetings held by the structures sub-committee appointed by the Medical Manpower Forum; the dates of such meetings; if the members of that committee were fully consulted prior to the preparation of the draft first report of the forum; and the reason this sub-committee was inactivated without explanation being given to its members. [10206/00]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 70 and 212 together.

The Structures Working Group met five times between July and December 1998 – on 29 July 1998, 8 September 1998, 13 October 1998, 12 November 1998, and 15 December 1998. The organisations represented on the structures group are also represented on the Medical Manpower Forum. The structures group considered a number of reports which identified issues relating to the provision of hospital services and the organisation of the medical workforce. The structures group agreed “that there should be a significant increase in consultant numbers. Such an increase will enable significant changes in work practices in particular an increased complement of consultants working shift systems”.

At this time the forum had begun to focus on issues similar to those being addressed by the structures group and at the December meeting of the Structures Working Group the Department of Health and Children, which provided secretariat support to the forum, indicated its intention to produce a paper on these issues for submission to the Medical Manpower Forum in the [877] new year. On 15 January 1999 the secretariat wrote to the members of the Structures Working Group, informing them that further meetings of the group were to be postponed until after the Department's paper was considered by the forum. The forum continued to address the fundamental issues contained in this paper over its following meetings through 1999 and has not yet come to a final determination on them. Should the forum decide to refer any matters back to the structures group this could still be done but, as the process has now developed this is unlikely.

The Medical Manpower Forum is now at an advanced stage in agreeing its first report and has taken account of the deliberations and work of the structures group.