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“Most of the winter plans for the hospitals are completed at this stage,” said Mr Woods. “They’ll be signed-off with the Hospital Groups; in fact, the Hospital Groups are meeting with the Minister [for Health Simon Harris] at the moment and with us directly in the HSE, to sign-off on plans and CHOs [Community Healthcare Organisations] on the community side are also involved in the process.
“So that planning is done back in June and it is kind of completed at this stage. We are just getting ready now for the actual onset of winter.”
In our last issue, MI reported that the CEO of RCSI Hospitals Mr Ian Carter had warned that “bed opening has a lead-in time” as winter plans submitted to tackle overcrowding remained unapproved.
In a presentation at the Emergency Department (ED) Taskforce Unscheduled Care Forum on 4 September, Mr Carter stated that plans submitted in respect of handling winter presentations were “still not approved” and additional funding, where identified, was either not agreed or rejected.
Meanwhile, Mr Woods told this newspaper that he believed the re-establishment of a HSE Board was “a good thing”.
“I think the arrangement that is in place at the moment was not intended to last for very long. So I think it is appropriate that we now have coming into place a Board that will provide some independent oversight of the HSE,” Mr Woods told MI.
“I think the HSE itself understood that having a Board made up of people who can only be National Directors of the HSE is not the best long-term solution. It is better to have independent accountability and that is coming back into place, which I think is a good thing.”
Mr Liam Woods
Last month, the Department of Health announced that CEO of the British Council Mr Ciarán Devane has been appointed Chairperson of the proposed HSE Board. His appointment followed a Public Appointments Service campaign.