Dáil Éireann - Volume 558 - 27 November, 2002

Written Answers. - Charter of Rights for Hospital Patients.

  182. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has made arrangements to receive from health boards regular reports on the performance of hospitals in relation to the charter of hospital care, which his Department developed some years ago; and if he has satisfied himself that hospitals are making every effort to avoid the scheduling of multiple appointments for one time which creates chaotic conditions and long waiting times for patients attending out-patients services. [23946/02]

  Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The Charter of Rights for Hospital Patients was published in 1992 to provide guidelines for good standards of practice in acute hospitals. Its objective was to ensure that the health service is responsive to the needs of the individual patients and that there is a code of practice available which sets out what patients have a right to expect when they make use of hospital services. While there was no requirement on health agencies to report regularly on their performance in implementing the charter, hospitals were expected to take account of the guidelines in order to deliver a patient-focused service.

  Moving to the present, one of the key guiding principles underpinning the national health strategy is the concept of people-centredness. The vision adopted for the health system of the future places a high value on treating people with dignity and respect. In pursuit of this objective, the strategy proposes the development of standardised customer services strategies by health boards to ensure a national standard and the implementation of standardised customer care plans by all service providers along with the development of a statutory framework for dealing with complaints.

  A number of hospitals throughout the country already operate a timed out-patient appointment system. As part of the implementation of action 85 of the health strategy, a project team has been established under the auspices of the health board executive to develop guidelines for individual timed out-patient appointments. The project team has drawn up a set of guidelines which is expected to be issued to health agencies in the near future. The guidelines will set out best practice for the implementation of a timed out-patient appointment system for hospitals.