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Hospital Groups will be ‘disrupted’ by regional division –DoH document

An internal Department of Health document admits that management structures in some areas will be “disrupted” by the proposed regional division of the health service.

The Ireland East Hospital Group and South/South West Hospital Group will be most affected by the new arrangements, according to the document, obtained by the Medical Independent (MI) through Freedom of Information law.

“The optimal approach minimises but does not avoid disruption and the entities most disrupted by the achievement of coherent healthcare delivery regions is the current hospital groupings in the acute sector. A change management challenge arises in particular in Ireland East and South/South West.”

The document on determining “optimal geographies” to underpin regional integrated healthcare organisations was completed by the Department in November 2018. It stated that the “learning achieved” over recent years in the creation of Hospital Groups and Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs) would be important in the establishment of the regional integrated healthcare organisations.

“On balance, the geographies proposed represent the least change necessary to achieve alignment of health and social care services at regional level.”

The document also outlined how the achievement of integrated care is dependent on population-based health service development, the expansion of healthcare delivered in a primary/community care setting, and strengthening connections with the acute service.

A Department spokesperson told MI the level of disruption would be low where existing CHOs and Hospital Groups were closely aligned. They added that where disruption occurs, it will result in “changes to management structures and won’t impact on patients or staff generally”. In July, it was announced that the health service would be divided into six new regional health areas.

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