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Inter-departmental discussions on new Sláintecare Programme Office

Minister for Health Simon Harris recently received Government approval at a Cabinet meeting to proceed with the establishment of the Sláintecare Programme Office.

The office will be charged with the implementation of the all-party 10-year vision for the health service, which was published by the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare at the end of May.

A Department of Health spokesperson has told the Medical Independent (MI) that the process towards recruiting staff members for the new office is now advancing and is taking place at an inter-departmental level. 

“This office will develop a response and plan for submission to Government by the end of December 2017, as recommended by the report,” a Department spokesperson told MI.

The Department did not have any information on how many staff would be employed in the new office.

MI was told that the new office and the structures around it are the focus of discussions between the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and the Department of Health.

“Work is advancing on putting in place a recruitment process. It should be noted that the report itself recommended that the Programme Office would report directly to the Minister for Health,” said the spokesperson.

Separately, the former Chair of the Committee revealed to MI her plans to establish a sub-committee of former members, so they can maintain “momentum” and political pressure towards the implementation of the Sláintecare report.

This sub-committee would not be established on a “statutory basis” because the Committee on the Future of Healthcare has formally stood down following the publication of Sláintecare, Deputy Róisín Shortall (Social Democrats) told MI.

“But we would do it just from the point of view of maintaining the political momentum within Leinster House on it,” said Deputy Shortall. “I am hoping to do that as soon as people are back [from summer recess]. We would be looking for strategies for lobbying for the [implementation of Sláintecare], and keeping pressure on the Minister [for Health] and the Taoiseach on it.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Committee has told MI that the final total cost for consultancy work on the Sláintecare report was €188,921.

“That includes the consultancy support, drafting and completion of the report, [and] workshops…,” said the Committee spokesperson.

See feature, pages 14 and 16

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