Written answers

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Photo of Louise O'ReillyLouise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
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101. To ask the Minister for Health the exact initial work that has taken place on the 2017 capacity review; the exact arrangements being put in place for the review to date; the timeline of the work of the review for 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4546/17]

Photo of John BradyJohn Brady (Wicklow, Sinn Fein)
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124. To ask the Minister for Health the details of the steering group of the 2017 capacity review including membership, number of members and so on; the details of the international expert advisory group of the 2017 capacity review, including membership, number of members and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4552/17]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 124 together.

I have confirmed that my Department will undertake a capacity review this year in line with the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government. I would like to assure the Deputies that this is a priority action for me and my Department.

Systematic analysis of the capacity requirements of the health service is an obvious requirement of proper planning and management. Such reviews should ideally be undertaken on a periodic basis and have a medium to long term focus. Given the changes in population, epidemiological trends and fiscal environment since the last report in 2007, a review at this stage is appropriate.

Assessing capacity requirements, however, is a complex task and cannot be divorced from considerations on the underlying model of care we want to develop for the Irish health service. It is widely acknowledged that primary care can provide more appropriate and effective management and treatment of some illnesses and conditions, especially chronic diseases. Similarly, the availability of non-acute beds and services in the community can mitigate the need for acute hospital admission, or facilitate earlier discharge. These factors directly contribute to the demands on the acute hospital system.

For this reason, I have confirmed that the review will have a wider scope than previous exercises and will examine key elements of primary and community care infrastructure in addition to hospital facilities.

The review will:

- consider current capacity in the health system and benchmark with international comparators;

- determine drivers of future demand for healthcare including demographic and epidemiological trends;

- analyse how reforms to the model of care will impact on future capacity requirements across the system; and

- provide an overall assessment of current and future capacity requirements for each year for the period 2017 – 2030.

The review is being undertaken by my Department and will be overseen by a steering group and an international expert advisory group. The steering group will include representatives from the Departments of Health, the Taoiseach and Public Expenditure and Reform, the HSE and a number of experts. This will be complemented by an independent peer group of international health experts who will be charged with reviewing and validating the review methodology and findings. Membership of both groups is being finalised, and I have asked my Department to forward details to the Deputies when representation has been confirmed.

External expert inputs will be commissioned to provide independent and impartial analysis of capacity needs. My Department will undertake a procurement process in this regard.

Given the current pressures being experienced within our hospital services, the process must also have a short-term focus and determine how capital investment over the coming years can be best targeted. I can confirm that the review will be advanced sufficiently to enable it to inform considerations around the mid-term review of the capital programme. It will be finalised for publication later in the year.


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