Wednesday, 24 April 2002
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I have initiated a number of measures to estimate the number of doctors required by the State over the next decade and beyond. The Government approved the establishment of a national task force on medical staffing and the group's work is progressing well.
The task force will, among other issues, consider the proposed development of a consultant delivered public hospital service and quantify the resource and cost implications involved. The task force will also address the reduction in working hours for non-consultant hospital doctors arising from the EU directive on working time and, in addition, it will consider the medical education and training requirements of our hospital medical workforce.
In relation to the number of doctors in general practice, the primary care strategy, which was published as part of the health strategy, states that a needs assessment of the composition and number of primary care teams in each health board area will be carried out within guidelines and frameworks developed by the forthcoming national primary care task force. A primary care human resources plan will be produced by the national primary care task force and the health boards to develop the capacity of primary care, including that of general practice. I established the primary care task force recently and it held its first meeting on 9 April.
Immediate improvements in human resource planning as proposed in the health strategy will also be accelerated to enable projected longer term requirements for staff numbers and skills mix to be identified, particularly in the health and social care professions.
The human resources plan will require the commitment and support of various professional providers and other staff involved in order to ensure that its successful development and implementation is progressed on a partnership basis. It will be based on the needs assessments to be carried out by individual health boards.
To address this, work is progressing on the development of a new personnel, payroll, attendance and recruitment system, PPARS, which will capture essential data on each individual and post within the health service. The PPARS project is a fundamental building block in developing dependable, reliable and robust quality information to forecast human resource requirements for the health service in the future.
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