Health Minister less accountable since HSE established - Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has said that the Minister for Health and Children is now less accountable to the Dáil than prior to the establishment of the Health Service Executive. In reply to a Dáil Question tabled by Deputy Ó Caoláin it is revealed that in the first nine months of 2005 nearly 46% of all Dáil Questions to the Minister for Health and Children were referred to the Health Service Executive. The figure for the same period in 2003 was just under 30%. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"When legislation to abolish the health boards and establish the Health Service Executive was introduced the Government denied that the Minister for Health and Children would be less accountable to the Dáil. The reply I have received today from Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, confirms that there is indeed less accountability now. More questions are being referred by the Minister to the HSE and Deputies have to wait longer for replies. Ministers are required to answer written Dáil Questions within four working days. For Questions referred to the Health Service Executive the deadline is three weeks but Deputies can often be left waiting for longer than that.
"The abolition of health boards, which included elected representatives, removed one layer of accountability and democratic scrutiny. The Government has compounded that by increasingly abdicating its responsibility to account to the Dáil for its stewardship of the Health Service. Meanwhile it has failed to establish the regional health forums promised under the Health (Amendment) Act 2004." ENDS