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Liz McManus Dail action

Liz McManus
(Wicklow, Labour)

Question 86: To ask the Minister for Health and Children if she will introduce legislation governing in vitro fertilisation; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Mary Harney
(Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Independent)

My Department is developing proposals for an appropriate regulatory framework, including legislation, in respect of Assisted Human Reproduction. The work involves, among other things, examining the approaches to regulation in other jurisdictions and considering the ethical and legal issues that arise. It will also take into account any report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children in response to the referral to it in 2005 of the Report of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction and the forthcoming judgment of the Supreme Court in the RvR (frozen embryos) case.

The work that the Department of Health and Children is undertaking is intended to result in policy proposals for a legal framework for this area. This work involves exploring and examining areas such as:

legal parentage;

access to treatment services;

certain practices on gametes and in vitro embryos;

donations of sperm, ova and embryos;

arrangements for consent; and

many other areas that are impacted by this wide and complex area.

The development and use of Assisted Human Reproduction technologies raises legal, social and ethical issues that are complex and profound.

Liz McManus
(Wicklow, Labour)

Question 138: To ask the Minister for Health and Children if a derogation from the moratorium on staff recruitment will be applied in order that commitments given in the context of reconfiguration in the north east and in the mid-west can be fulfilled; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Mary Harney
(Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Independent)

In order to implement savings measures on public service numbers, the Government introduced a moratorium on recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade with effect from 27 March 2009 to end 2010. A HSE circular has issued which gives effect to the Government decision in the public health services and other specific aspects of the employment control framework for the health services.

The HSE will be focusing on the scope that exists within the health services for reorganising and restructuring of work in order to minimise the impact on essential service delivery. The redeployment and reassignment of existing staff will also support the reorientation of care from hospitals to the community and to facilitate the development of integrated care. It is seeking a high level of flexibility from staff and unions to achieve this. The Government decision has been modulated to ensure that key services are maintained insofar as possible in the health services, particularly in respect of children at risk, older people and persons with a disability.

In addition, the employment control framework specifically exempts certain front line grades in the health sector from the moratorium and it allows for a growth in the number of those posts within the overall approved employment ceiling (111,800) for the health sector. The framework also includes provision for the creation of 225 new development posts this year for cancer, mental health and disability services. In addition, special provisions apply in relation to certain specialist grades under the National Cancer Control Programme. The focus on these key grades is in line with existing Government policy on the prioritisation of certain development areas, for which significant funding has already been provided. The overall result will be to assist in the reorientation of health employment to services delivered in primary and community care.

The operation of the framework, including the moratorium on recruitment, is kept under review by my Department, in consultation with the Department of Finance and the Health Service Executive.

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