Dáil Éireann - Volume 598 - 22 February, 2005
Written Answers. - Hospital Services.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin
102. Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that it is impossible for electronic files on patients to be shared between hospitals due to the fact that the primary identifier on a patient’s file is a number assigned to him or her by the hospital, which makes cross-referencing impossible, so that if a patient is subsequently treated at a different hospital there is no efficient way to obtain his or her history; her views on the establishment of a system whereby the primary identifier would be the PPS number or, in the case of tourists, the passport number; if she will take steps to have such a system implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5684/05]
Ms Harney Ms Harney
Ms Harney:The health information strategy published in 2004 provides for the introduction of a system of unique identification of health service clients and patients which will be based on the PPS number. This will be critical to the reliable identification of patients which is an essential element in the safe transfer of electronic patient records between health care providers. The question of the identification of patients who are not Irish residents will be considered in detail as part of the process. It will also be necessary to ensure that any system of transfer of electronic patient information between health care providers has inbuilt safeguards regarding the appropriateness of that transfer which will protect the privacy and confidentiality of that information.
Any necessary legislative or regulatory support for the implementation of the PPS number in the health service will be considered in the context of legislation which my Department will be drafting to address any legal issues arising in the context  of the implementation of the health information strategy.
Mr. Haughey Mr. Haughey
103. Mr. Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street is not accepting public or semi-private cases for the next few months; if her attention has further been drawn to the fact that this is causing distress for some expectant mothers who have given birth to their other children in this hospital; the action she will take to resolve this problem; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5688/05]
Ms Harney Ms Harney
Ms Harney:The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, HSE, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act, the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services.
Services at the National Maternity Hospital are provided under an arrangement with the executive. My Department has requested the chief officer for the executive’s eastern regional area to examine the issues raised and to reply to the Deputy directly.
The HSE is aware of the challenges facing the National Maternity Hospital in meeting demand and will continue to work with the three Dublin maternity hospitals to jointly address the issue of how best to manage the provision of maternity services throughout 2005.
Dáil Éireann 598 Written Answers. Hospital Services.