Written Answers - Patients' Charter.

Thursday, 14 April 1994

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 441 No. 3

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[674]

  18.  Ms McManus  Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus   asked the Minister for Health  Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin   if he will extend the charter of patients' rights to cover all medical consumers, and to cover rights such as access to information, in order to cover such situations as the recent attempts by consultants to block publication by the VHI of a directory showing those medical consultants whose fees are fully covered by subscriptions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

  25.  Mr. Barrett  Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett   asked the Minister for Health  Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin   his views on the publication of a list of consultants who do not require payment in addition to VHI fees in respect of specific operations; if patients have at present unimpeded access through their general practitioner to a consultant of their choice and prior knowledge within reason of the likely cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I propose to take Questions No. 18 and 25 together.

The Government is committed under the Programme for a Partnership Government and the Programme for Competitiveness and Work to issuing further patients' charters, which will be based on legal reform where necessary, to cover groups such as children, expectant mothers, the elderly, the mentally ill and people with a physical or mental handicap.

The Government is also committed to a review of the Charter of Rights for Hospital Patients so as to make any necessary improvements and to ensure that it provides a properly structured system of patients' rights. This review is ongoing.

I regard access to information to permit informed decision making as an important element of patient rights and in this context I welcome the fact that it has proved possible for the VHI to advise subscribers of the names of fully participating consultants through a special telephone inquiry service and through individual general practitioners. While I have no direct involvement in patient referral or in the contractual relationship between individual private patients and their consultants I am satisfied that the availability of this information will better equip individuals to make an informed judgment on the prospective cost involved.


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