14/12/2001

Primary Health care arrangements ‘progressing well’

The Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety Bairbre de Brún has said she is encouraged by the progress so far to establish the new arrangements for primary care.

In October this year, the Minister announced new arrangements to be put in place after the end of GP fundholding and which will lead to the establishment of Local Health and Social Care Groups - which in turn will provide a structure for pharmacists, GPs, community nurses and other primary care professionals.

The Groups will have budgets for delivering primary care services and, over time, will receive a budget to allow them to commission hospital services.

Ms de Brún said: “I am encouraged by the interest which pharmacists, community nurses, GPs, social workers and others have shown in the new arrangements for primary care. We see a wide range of health and social service professions and community representatives working closely together to have Local Health and Social Care Groups operational by 1 April 2002.

“Our experience of the existing primary care pilots shows that these kinds of structures, which bring primary care professionals and community representatives together can bring real benefits to local communities in terms of innovation in the delivery of services.”

Commenting on a recent conference held by the Institute of Healthcare Management the Minister said: “I am aware that the Institute of Healthcare Management hosted a very productive and successful workshop on 5th December 2001 which afforded a useful opportunity for many stakeholders to hear about and comment on the proposed way forward for primary care.”

“Presentations were made by a variety of interests including the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, general practice and a representative from a Primary Care Trust in England.

“I understand that this was an extremely lively event and will no doubt further assist in shaping the thinking in terms of the development of this aspect of the service.

“Local Health and Social Care Groups will support co-operation across all parts of the health and social services and will facilitate partnerships between health and social services and education, housing and other public sector agencies in a way that will improve the quality of care available to service users and promote health and wellbeing in their widest sense. The Groups will enhance primary care’s place at the heart of the health and social services and will provide the basic building blocks for future developments across the service.” (AMcE)

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