Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
308. Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to review the procedure whereby parliamentary questions replied to by the Health Service Executive are not provided to all Members, although the questions have been submitted to the Minister; her views on whether this is the best way to ensure transparency in the system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37353/09]
309. Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of parliamentary questions submitted to her for reply which have been forwarded to the Health Service Executive; the number of questions submitted to her which have been replied to by her Department for 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37354/09]
The Health Act 2004 contains very specific provisions relating to the Health Service Executive’s accountability to the Oireachtas at National level. The central elements of the current statutory accountability framework within which the HSE operates are: the Annual National Service Plan, the Annual Financial Statements, the three year Corporate Plan and the Code of Governance. The Service and Corporate Plans and the Code of Governance are subject to my approval and are then laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas. In addition, the HSE is required to obtain my prior written permission for major capital spending.
Responding to the information needs of the Oireachtas and the public is a priority for my Department and is a regular agenda item at meetings between myself and the Chief Executive Officer of the Health Service Executive.
The operation of the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the HSE (PAD) allows for the centralised receipt, assignment and tracking of Parliamentary Questions within the HSE’s extensive network of operations. More generally, PAD monitors overall performance in relation to the timely issue of replies and provides a central contact for all requests from Oireachtas members for information relating to matters within the statutory remit of the Executive. It reports on a regular basis to the Chief Executive Officer and his management team.
As part of an ongoing process of meeting its obligations with regard to accountability and transparency, the HSE currently uploads replies to Parliamentary Questions on its public website, www.hse.ie. It should be noted that the Executive can only do this where responses to questions do not contain material which may be subject to exclusion under the provisions of Data Protection legislation. This includes replies to questions concerning the provision of services to a named individual.
The HSE routinely furnishes Oireachtas members with press releases and other documents, as prescribed in SI No. 798 of 2005, the Health Act 2004 (Dealings with members of either House of the Oireachtas) Regulations 2005.
As the Deputy will be aware, Parliamentary Questions relating to operational matters within the health services are referred to the HSE for direct reply. The statistical data requested by the Deputy is set out in the table. The percentage of the total number of PQs received by the Department which were fully referred to the HSE for direct reply were 51% in 2007, 50% in 2008 and 47% up to the 8th October 2009.
|Year||Total number of PQs received by the Department||Fully Referred to the HSE||Partially Referred to the HSE||Fully Referred to Other Agencies||Partially Referred to Other Agencies||Remainder (answered in full during Dáil question time)|
|2009 (up to October 8th)||4,296||2,040||306||18||4||1,928|
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