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Concerns raised over model of Future of Healthcare committee

The former Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children told the Medical Independent (MI) he would have preferred if the newly-established Committee had been established on a more “social partnership” model that was not restricted to politicians. He told MI that a committee with a membership purely of politicians risks becoming a “talking shop”.

The Dáil established the Committee in June, with Minister for Health Simon Harris saying it would “develop cross-party consensus on the future of the health service”.  The Committee on Health will separately continue its work.

Senator Buttimer, when describing what he meant by a “social partnership” model, commented: “I would mean something where we bring everybody to the table as co-equals and build a social partnership consensus approach to the emerging needs and put together a vision and ambition for the future health needs of the country.

“I think emerging from that then, you have got a road map, rather than people coming in or invited in to make submissions. I would rather have had that sort of model.”

Senator Buttimer said that he would have preferred a non-TD, Independent chair for the Committee. It “should possibly have been chaired by someone not involved in politics”.

“But in saying that, there is a need for a 10-year strategy; the Minister is right to have that. But what we can’t have is a talking shop.”

The fact that the Committee is comprised solely of Dáil members has drawn criticism from Fine Gael Senators including Senator Buttimer, Senator Colm Burke and Senator James Reilly.

The Committee on the Future of Healthcare has 14 TD members and is chaired by Róisín Shortall (Social Democrats). Its Interim Report was launched earlier this month.

“This is a unique opportunity for cross-party consensus in developing a coherent and meaningful healthcare strategy to be implemented over the next 10 years,” said Deputy Shortall on the launch of the report.

A Committee spokesperson said that there were no plans to invite Senators as members but that it aims to have a “structured engagement” with Senators.

See feature, page 12-14

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