Seanad debates

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Medical Practitioners Bill 2007: Second Stage


5:00 pm

Brendan Daly (Fianna Fail)

This is a long and detailed Bill and there will be time on Committee Stage to go into it in depth. It is important to update the legislation in this area, although the current legislation is only 30 years old.

It is daft for there to be 25 people on a board. It is far too large and should be reduced to about 12 people. Other activities of the board should be carried out by subcommittees. A board of this nature will be unwieldy and it will be difficult for it to reach decisions. We should take this opportunity to limit the membership of many of the boards that have been established over the years that have been far too large.

I would also like the board to be established outside Dublin. I cannot understand why every board must be located in this city, which has grown beyond management. Good examples of the relocation of Departments are to be found in the Minister of State's constituency, where they operate successfully. There is no reason such an approach cannot be replicated. When it comes to a decision on this board being relocated outside Dublin, it would not make any difference to me if it were located in Ennis, Shannon or Limerick. No more than my views on its membership, the size of the board etc., this would have no impact on what we are discussing this afternoon.

It is necessary to update the legislation in so far as the system we have operated up to now has left major gaps in the effectiveness of the role of the medical profession. For example, the Department is aware there are difficulties in regard to the training, management and application of orthodontists in the mid-west. Thousands of children are on waiting lists for orthodontist treatment. Can this board resolve those difficulties? Will it have any influence in resolving the difficulties that exist in regard to speech and language therapists and occupational therapists? Hundreds of vacancies for skilled professional people have remained unfilled and now when an effort is being made to fill them speech and language therapists in Ennis and other towns cannot get positions in the service, despite the numbers on waiting lists. We heard of this on national radio this morning.

I pay tribute to the general practitioners in my region, the people with whom I mainly deal from the viewpoint of my constituents. Rarely if ever, over 35 years, have I received a major complaint against any of the GPs in my constituency. They are all exceptional and I want to put on record my appreciation of their dedication, work and commitment to the job. Shannondoc provides an out-of-hours service in the mid-west region. This service had some teething problems, but it now provides a successful and competent service, when most people are relaxing. The highly professional people in Shannondoc should be complimented on the service they provide to the community. This is certainly true in County Clare.

I compliment Limerick University on its recent initiative in developing a medical school. While I am not familiar with the details of that decision, it is important we use the type of expertise that is available at Limerick University to develop a medical school there. This initiative may have been criticised by other colleges, but in so far as the people in the mid-west and I are concerned, since its establishment Limerick University has charted a new course for innovation and education in the mid-west region. It has been an outstanding success and I have no doubt the medical school there will play a significant role in the development, training and organisation of medical professionals to cater for the needs of the people throughout the country. I welcome these moves at the university and compliment the people in the college on the initiative they have shown. I also compliment the Department on working with them in establishing the new initiative.

The Bill is very detailed. I am not sure whether it is necessary to set down in legislation the procedures for running a board meeting and indicating that, when the chairman is not present, the vice chairman should take over, etc. The legislation could be reduced by half, as could the membership of the board, to deliver a very good, more efficient and effective service.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.