Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Seán Fleming has described the decision of the HSE to proceed with the introduction of a new system of ‘individual health identifier numbers’ as a costly duplication of PPS numbers.

What’s worse is that this new numbering system will be separate from people’s medical card number. According to Deputy Fleming, the idea that people will have three separate numbers – one for medical cards, one for public services and one for the health service – is absurd. The Fianna Fáil Spokesperson described it as ‘public administration gone mad.’

“There is no doubt that a system which operates a single identifier for patients throughout their lifetime can undoubtedly bring benefits in terms improvements and efficiency in patient care. However I have to question the benefit of effectively re-inventing the wheel for people who have an existing PPS number for access to public services,” said Deputy Fleming.

“The HSE has not to date provided adequate reasons why PPS numbers cannot be used.

“The proposed system is subject to a trial period in a number of areas. This begs the questions as to when it will be rolled out on a nationwide basis. The PPS system is already up and running and in use for the provision of all public services, such as social protection payments and tax records.

“I am sceptical about HSE claims that the system can be built ‘within existing resources’. The HSE cannot event put a cost on the project. This means vital funding will be diverted away from much needed frontline health services and towards additional and possibly unnecessary administration. There is a real danger that costs could spiral.

“It is my firm belief that adapting the PPS system for use in the health sector would provide a faster and more cost efficient means of collating patient data which everyone agrees will lead to better patient outcomes.”