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Minister Harris Announces Agreement on Committee to develop 10-year Vision for Health

At its meeting today, the government agreed to support a motion establishing an all-party committee to devise cross-party agreement on a single long-term vision for health care and the direction of health policy in Ireland.  

Speaking after the cabinet meeting, Minister Harris said, ‘One of the key proposals in the Programme for Government is the establishment of an Oireachtas Committee to develop cross-party consensus on the future of the health service. I believe the health service would benefit enormously from a single unifying vision that we can all get behind and that can help to drive reform and development of the system over the next 10 years.

I am pleased that the Government has agreed to move ahead quickly to establish this committee and to get it up and running in the coming weeks.

I have been in discussion with Deputies from across the House, and I believe that we have now arrived at a motion that can attract broad support in the Dáil, and which the government is backing. We will also allocate government time to debate the motion in the House.

I hope to table this motion in the near future, and to start the debate about how we can develop a single unifying vision for the future of healthcare.'

Text of the Motion
“That Dáil Éireann:
That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, and recognising:
- the severe pressures on the Irish health service, the unacceptable waiting times that arise for public patients, and the poor outcomes relative to cost;
- the need for consensus at political level on the health service funding model based on population health needs;
- the need to establish a universal single-tier service where patients are treated on the basis of health need rather than on ability to pay;
- that to maintain health and well-being and build a better health service, we need to examine some of the operating assumptions on which health policy and health services are based;
- that the best health outcomes and value for money can be achieved by re-orientating the model of care towards primary and community care where the majority of people’s health needs can be met locally;
- the Oireachtas intention to develop and adopt a 10-year plan for our health services, based on political consensus, that can deliver these changes,
resolves that:
a) A Special All-Party Committee shall be established, within 3 weeks of the passing of this motion, to devise cross-party agreement on a single long-term vision for health care and direction of health policy in Ireland;
b) The Committee shall examine existing and forecast demand on health services, including the changing demographics in the Irish population;
c) The Committee shall examine and recommend how to progress a changed model of healthcare that advocates the principles of prevention and early intervention, self-management and primary care services as well as integrated care;
d) The Committee shall examine different funding models for the health service and make recommendations on the funding models that are best suited to Ireland and have these models fully costed;
e) The Committee shall examine and make recommendations on how best to re-orientate the health service on a phased basis towards integrated, primary and community care, consistent with highest quality of patient safety, in as short a time-frame as possible;
f) Notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 93, the Committee shall elect one of its members to be Chairman, who shall have one vote;
g) The Committee shall be mandated to hold hearings in public with expert witnesses; invite and accept written submissions; draw up a report(s); make findings; and/or suggest recommendations if the membership so agrees in unison or in majority/minority format;
h) The Committee shall produce an interim report, containing also its proposed work schedule, to be debated at a meeting of the Dáil no less than one week, and no more than two months, after its establishment;
i) Within six months of the initial meeting, a final report by the Committee shall be presented to the Ceann Comhairle for earliest possible discussion in the House;
j) The Committee shall meet as frequently as appropriate to fulfil its remit; and
k) The Committee membership shall be made up of three members appointed by Fine Gael, three members by Fianna Fáil, two members by Sinn Féin, one member by the Labour Party and five members representing the independent deputies and members from other political parties."