Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Health
Question 625: To ask the Minister for Health the length of time it is acceptable to wait for an answer to a query directed to the Health Service Executive from her Department following a parliamentary question. [7555/12]
All Parliamentary Questions should be answered on the day required by the Oireachtas, or if due to the nature of the question this proves impossible as soon as possible thereafter. The Health Service Executive is very conscious of the need for prompt replies to Parliamentary Questions and there is regular liaison between my Department and the Executive in this regard. While the Executive attempts to answer all questions referred to it as quickly as possible, many of the questions submitted by Deputies request large and detailed amounts of statistical data on a variety of subjects which require input and coordination from all areas of the Executive.
In its National Service Plan the HSE commits to answering 75% of questions within 15 working days. In November of last year the Executive introduced a new IT system for dealing with Parliamentary Questions. It is envisaged that this system will contribute towards a more efficient method of dealing with PQs within the HSE and result in more prompt replies being issued.
While I, as Minister for Health, have ultimate responsibility for the health services I continue to believe that questions concerning individual patients and operational matters relating to local issues should be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to Deputies. A balance has to be struck between responsibility for local issues, which rests with local area service managers, and the ultimate accountability of Ministers.
If the Deputy has concerns about a specific Parliamentary Question I would ask him to forward the details to my office and I will follow it up with the HSE.