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Need to ‘clarify’ voluntary organisations’ accountability within RHAs

By David Lynch - 16th Apr 2023

Accountability arrangements for voluntary organisations working under the new regional health areas (RHAs) will need to be clarified during implementation, according to the RHAs advisory group.

Moving away from “transactional relationships and building trust between organisations” was also identified as important during a meeting of the group in December 2022.

“It was noted that due to the percentage of care provided by voluntary organisations, how  the voluntaries will exist within the RHAs is a critical element of RHA implementation,” stated meeting minutes. The meeting discussed “RHAs being accountable for the health of their populations, and voluntary organisations being accountable to their boards”.

“It was noted that while it is possible for voluntaries to be accountable to both RHAs and their own boards, it will be important to clarify governance arrangements.”

The meeting heard that voluntary organisations should be involved in the RHAs implementation process “in a meaningful way that encourages ownership over implementation”.

A “phased approach” that incorporates “learnings from across the sector and provides clarity and reassurance for those involved” was identified as a potential enabler of aligning the voluntary organisations with RHAs implementation.

The meeting also heard that the Minister for Health had requested the group to extend its terms of reference for another 12 months, “to continue providing expert advice and guidance on the RHA implementation plan, and implementation of said plan in the transition to RHAs in 2023.”

Last month, a HSE spokesperson said the implementation plan was under review by the Executive and Department of Health. Mr Robert Watt, Secretary General at the Department, has since told the Oireachtas committee on health that the plan “has been shared with the Minister [for Health] for his consideration”.

“The draft was prepared by the Department and the HSE and has benefited from direct input from the new HSE CEO, Mr Bernard Gloster,” Mr Watt told the committee on 29 March.

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