The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health is inviting public submissions (by 20th January 2017) on the general scheme of the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill (“the Bill”) in particular the aspects of the proposed Bill which deal with personal health information and data privacy.

The general scheme was originally announced in November 2015 and is an initiative designed to provide a legislative framework for the better governance of health information and the enhancement of patient safety by creating new frameworks for the sharing and usage of personal health information, including for research purposes and for continuity of care. Importantly, the bill brings private health service providers under the remit of the Health and Information Quality Authority (“HIQA”) for the first time.

Overview of the Bill

Proposed measures in the Bill include:

  • Setting standards for the most efficient and effective exchange of electronic health information. One of the key methods by which this is to be done is by the creation of new frameworks for the sharing and use of personal health information, including through “data matching” where personal information collected for one purpose by one organisation is subsequently matched with data collected for another purpose by the same or another organisation, allowing health professionals to build up a better understanding of an individual within the health system.
  • Providing for a voluntary, national research ethics approval structure for health research not already governed by other legislation, with HIQA as the supervisory body.
  • Creating a right for health regulatory bodies to share personal data where appropriate.
  • The mandatory reporting of serious patient safety incidents resulting in death or serious harm and the voluntary reporting of less serious events.
  • Measures to support clinical audit.
  • The extension of the remit of the HIQA to private healthcare providers. Establishing a licensing system for both public and private healthcare providers is part of the Government’s Health Service Reform Programme. As a move towards licensing, the Bill would bring the independent healthcare sector within HIQA’s remit in monitoring compliance with national standards.

Public Submissions

The specific parts, under which the Health Committee are seeking submissions, include:

  • Part 2: Personal Data, Personal Health Data and Personal Health Information
  • Part 3: Research Ethics Approval
  • Part 4: Data Matching Programmes
  • Part 5: Health Information Resources

Written submissions must be emailed to the following address and received not later than 3.00 pm on Friday, 20th January 2017 - HIPS@oireachtas.ie

For more information on the submission process, click here

The General Scheme of the Bill is accessible by clicking here