Significant concerns about the new regional division of the health service were outlined by the Chair of the Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) in a letter to Minister for Health Simon Harris earlier this year, the Medical Independent (MI) can report.
Mr Thomas Lynch, in correspondence sent on 21 February 2019, expressed anxiety about the possibility of breaking links between St Vincent’s University Hospital and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin. The letter was sent on behalf of the IEHG and the Chair of RCSI Hospitals Group, Ms Anne Maher.
Meetings between the Groups and Department of Health officials revealed the Mater would be the model 4 hospital most affected by the regional division, according to the letter.
Mr Lynch referred to “potential unintended consequences” for patient care and effective medical training within the Groups.
Senior clinicians from both hospitals had outlined their concerns in relation to a number of areas, such as cancer care; eye care; ENT; venous thromboembolic disease; and vascular surgery.
“Their concern is that any announcement on splitting up the Mater and St Vincent’s through the geo-alignment process would derail the progression and continuation of established joint services and shared medical posts, and also potentially pose a risk to patients,” according to the letter.
Mr Lynch said there were 12 Mater consultants who had a joint appointment with St Vincent’s and 31 in total with IEHG hospitals and University College Dublin.
“If legislation is required to establish regional integrated care organisations (which seems likely), then all current progress will grind to a halt and there will be a prolonged vacuum as we wait for the legislative process,” according to Mr Lynch.
A Department spokesperson told MI it had taken into account the concerns of stakeholders in developing the plan.
At the time of the Department’s announcement on the new regions in July, it was stated that existing links between hospitals would continue, as would clinical service collaborations and academic links.