Fine Gael TD for Galway West & Mayo South

Kyne receives confirmation of mandatory HIQA inspections of private hospitals

Fine Gael Galway West/Mayo South TD, Seán Kyne, has today (Tuesday) said that he has received confirmation from the Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly TD, that his Department is currently working on the Licensing of Health Facilities Bill which will provide for a mandatory system of licensing for public and private health service providers. These standards will be enforceable through inspection and imposition of sanctions as necessary. Minister Reilly confirmed this in response to a Parliamentary Question submitted by Deputy Kyne.

“I welcome the confirmation from Minister Reilly that he is preparing legislation to improve patient safety by ensuring that healthcare providers in the public and private sector do not operate below core standards which are applied in a consistent and systematic way. The legislative proposals are being prepared broadly in line with recommendations made in the Report of the Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance.

“I raised this issue with Minister Reilly as I have been concerned about the lack of mandatory inspections on private hospitals. I was particularly dismayed by the fact that HIQA’s remit does not cover private hospitals. Minister Reilly confirmed to me that standards and other requirements will be enforceable through inspection of public and private hospitals and the imposition of sanctions as necessary. Licensing will be targeted at areas which are not currently subject to regulation.

“I have urged the Minister to ensure that this legislation is brought forward as quickly as possible. I see this as an important step as we move towards the new Universal Health Insurance system. Minister Reilly has confirmed to me that the legislative proposals are being progressed in the Department and, once finalised, will be submitted to him in advance of seeking Government approval to publish the Heads of a Bill.”

Parliamentary Questions

Dáil Question No. 661 from Deputy Sean Kyne to Minister for Health (Dr. James Reilly) on 21st January ‘14

* To ask the Minister for Health further to the Parliamentary Question No. 626 of 17 December 2013, and in the context of the planned changes to the Irish Health Service, if consideration will be given to empowering Health Information and Quality Authority to monitor and inspect standards in private hospitals as well as public hospitals, in view of the proposed introduction of a health insurance system in which the services provided by private hospitals will undoubtedly expand.

Reply:

My Department is currently working on the Licensing of Health Facilities Bill which will provide for a mandatory system of licensing for public and private health service providers.  The legislative proposals are being prepared broadly in line with recommendations made in the Report of the Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance and are designed to improve patient safety by ensuring that healthcare providers do not operate below core standards which are applied in a consistent and systematic way.

Standards and other requirements will be enforceable through inspection and imposition of sanctions as necessary.  Licensing will be targeted at areas which are not currently subject to regulation. The legislative proposals are being progressed in the Department and, once finalised, will be submitted to me in advance of seeking Government approval to publish the Heads of a Bill.

Dáil Question No. 626 from Deputy Sean Kyne to Minister for Health (Dr. James Reilly) on 17th December ’13.

To ask the Minister for Health if he will outline the inspection procedure for health facilities, in particular hospitals; if there is a difference in the inspection procedures between public and private hospitals; if inspections are pre-arranged with facilities receiving prior notification; and if so, if it would be more effective to have on-the-spot, random inspections for all health facilities operating here.

Reply:

Under Section 8 of the Health Act 2007 the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) may set standards on safety and quality and monitor compliance with these standards. HIQA may also undertake an investigation as to the safety, quality and standards of the services if the Authority believes that there are reasonable grounds for doing so as set out in Section 9 of the Act.

HIQA, therefore, uses the powers available under the Health Act 2007 to monitor compliance with the Standards it sets and to undertake investigations in public hospitals.

A number of hospital inspections have taken place in recent months as part of HIQA’s monitoring of the implementation of the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAI).

To date HIQA has carried out both announced and unannounced inspections in public hospitals around the country to monitor compliance with the HCAI Standards.  It is a matter for HIQA to decide on the operational arrangements used to monitor implementation of Standards and if such monitoring requires unannounced visits to public hospitals.

HIQA does not carry out inspections in private hospitals as HIQA does not have a remit in this area.

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