Academic linkages were not deemed a “critical factor” in the creation of the new regional healthcare structure, the Medical Independent (MI) can report.
An internal Department of Health report outlining the rationale for the new structures, completed in November 2018 and seen by MI through Freedom of Information law, acknowledged that regions should continue to have strong links with academic institutions.
“Regions should have robust academic linkages and a focus on innovation, as they are and will continue to be important in terms of health workforce development and medical research across the health services nationally and regionally,” according to the document.
However, it also stated that these academic relationships were not crucial in deciding upon the new structures, given that many hospitals had links outside their Hospital Group’s primary academic partner.
At present, each Hospital Group has a primary academic partner, and at the time of the Higgins Report in 2013, this was considered a core criterion for selection of the Group structures.
“In practice, hospitals have continued to have links with medical schools and universities outside of their primary academic partner and based on historic links pre-dating that report. Therefore, it is not deemed a critical factor in the design of the new regions.”
Instead, “it is proposed that it will be made clear in all communications that regions can [have] more than one affiliated partner,” according to the document.
Academic institutions will be included in future engagement processes.
Stakeholders in each of the regional health areas have been invited to contribute to the design of the services for their new regions.
Specific recommendations as to the design of the six regions are due to be completed in 2020.