Dáil Éireann - Volume 639 - 10 October, 2007

Written Answers. - Health Services.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of complaints received in relation to the doctor on call service in County Louth since the inception of this service; if investigations were carried out as a result of such complaints; the time scale involved; if the complainant was dissatisfied; if so, the further action that was taken; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22951/07]

  Deputy Mary Harney: Out of hours co-operatives allow general practitioners to put in place arrangements to provide services to their patients, while their surgeries are closed in the evenings, on weekends and bank holidays. The development of GP co-operatives is in line with the overall health service policy of strengthening primary care services and ensuring that to the greatest extent possible, people’s care needs are met in the primary care setting.

Out of hours co-operatives are now in place in all Health Service Executive (HSE) areas, providing coverage in all or in part of all counties. In 2007, almost €37 million is available to the HSE to fund the operation of GP out of hours services. This figure does not include the fees of the participating doctors.

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for this service, it is the appropriate body to provide the information sought by the Deputy. My Department has therefore requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for waiting times for physiotherapy at a health centre in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22959/07]

  Deputy Mary Harney: The Primary Care Strategy aims to develop services in the community to give people direct access to integrated multi-disciplinary teams of general practitioners, physiotherapists, nurses, home helps, occupational therapists and others.

It has been estimated that up to 95% of people’s health and social services needs can be properly met within a primary care setting and the establishment of new Primary Care Teams can contribute greatly to enhancing community based health services.

The HSE received an additional €10m in funding in 2006 to enable the establishment of up to [700] 100 Primary Care Teams in development; a further €22m is being provided in 2007 to meet the full year costs of the 2006 developments and to enable a further 100 Primary Care Teams in development to be established. The development of these teams will facilitate a significant increase in capacity for delivery of physiotherapy services in primary care settings.

The Government has committed under the Towards 2016 agreement to the establishment of 300 Primary Care Teams by 2008; 400 by 2009; and 500 by 2011. A review of these targets will be undertaken in 2008.

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for Primary Care services, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.