Minister for Health Simon Harris has today announced some details around the restructuring of health services leading to the establishment of six new regional health areas.
According to the Department of Health, the new regional health areas are in line with recommendations made in the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare Sláintecare Report (2017), that regional bodies should be responsible for the planning and delivery of integrated health and social care services.
The proposed six regional health areas are based on population data including how people currently access health services, as well as a public consultation.
Minister Harris said: “This is a key day for the delivery of Sláintecare and for the reform of our health service. Today’s announcement identifies the six regions which will be used in developing structures for the delivery of integrated care.
“This will result in clear financial and performance accountability, empower frontline staff and devolve authority from the HSE to the local regions. These proposals will help shape the future of healthcare in this country and will give the staff, and more importantly, communities a greater role in the delivery of health.”
Ms Laura Magahy, Sláintecare Executive Director, said: “I look forward to co-designing integrated health and social care services with the citizens and staff of the six regions.
“This population-based approach will allow us to hear from the people in each region and ensure that a big emphasis is placed on preventing sickness, keeping people healthy in or near their own homes for as long as possible and ensuring that excellent hospital care is available in a timely way, where necessary.”
Prof Tom Keane, Chair of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council, added: “I look forward to the regional health bodies assuming responsibility for patient safety in due course, through the implementation of mandatory clinical governance structures and processes, such that there is clear accountability for the clinical care of every patient.”
Mr Paul Reid, HSE CEO, speaking at today’s announcement said: “The agreement of the six new health regions is an important step in improving our health service, for everyone living in Ireland. We want people to be able to get the health services they need, as close to people’s homes as possible, with the majority of care delivered in the community and not in acute hospitals.
“Since I joined the HSE, I have met staff right across the country who work tirelessly to deliver the best care possible, and who have great energy and ambition for constantly improving what we do, and how we do it. However, our current structures do not always support them in doing this. These new integrated health regions provide us with the opportunity to put in place a system that ultimately supports and enables our staff to deliver the best care possible.”
The next step is to begin the co-design process. Stakeholders in each of the regional health areas will be invited to contribute to the design of the services for their new regions. Work will also now be undertaken to detail the national and regional organisational design which will be brought back to Government for approval within 12 months. Once established, these six regional bodies will be enabled to plan, fund, manage and deliver integrated care for people in their region.
Minister Harris concluded, “This is only one of a number of decisions that need to be taken in relation to the future development of our health service structure. It is important that there is now clarity on the future regional areas and detailed work can start on designing the new regional bodies. I look forward to engaging with key stakeholders, including the public, patients and staff as part of this process.”