Wednesday, 11 October 2006
Enda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
The Taoiseach says that health workers work a six hour day and take Fridays off. It is obvious that the Minister for Finance is not informed about what is happening in the IT project systems within the Health Service Executive and that someone is not telling him. Is he aware that despite a provision of €70 million for IT projects in the HSE this year, as of 27 September, not a cent apart from the PPARS project has been sanctioned by the Department of Health and Children?
While the PPARS project gets €18 million extra, we need IT projects that work. Here are three examples: a €260,000 project to boost mental health services for children in the north east — no sanction, no choice, no chance; a €122,000 project for IT dealing with orthodontics for patients, including children, in the north west — no sanction, no choice, no chance; a €166,000 IT project dealing with vascular surgery programmes in the mid-west — no sanction, no choice, no chance. Those are three small, patient-centred IT projects that have not been sanctioned ten months after the Minister for Finance gave his overall imprimatur.
After 21 months, there is still no national director for IT projects within the Health Service Executive. The HSE says it wants breathing space, after 21 months, when €168 million has been spent on PPARS, but here are three small, patient-centred IT projects that are yet to be sanctioned by the Minister for Health and Children ten months into the year. Does the Minister for Finance believe that we should operate in this way? Is he happy that sort of project, which is patient-centred, should be left to one side? When will he sort this out politically?