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Sláintecare ‘presents political challenges’

Focus on strategy instead of implementation “too often” means that policy documents and reports end up “gathering dust”, according to the Chair of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council, Dr Tom Keane.

Dr Keane, former Director of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), made the comments at the Health Management Institute’s annual conference, which took place in the RDS, Dublin, on 3 October.

According to Dr Keane, there was a consensus “that if the Sláintecare strategy, which was well laid-out and well-documented, was left up to the HSE and the Department of Health to implement, there would be a real risk that nothing would ever happen”.

He also said the implementation of Sláintecare presents political challenges because of its broad focus.

“There are many tough recommendations to implement Sláintecare and it’s understandable that there would be a political challenge in adopting and implementing some of those recommendations. For [the NCCP], it was a purely medical focus, about cancer care delivery, and improving cancer outcomes. In Sláintecare, there is a much broader focus, there are obviously medical focuses, but there is also a societal and political focus in terms of the vision for a very different healthcare system than what we currently have, and obviously the views of society on that are… important.”

“It wasn’t easy politically for the Government to support the cancer strategy, but I think that… clearly, without their support, the cancer strategy would never have been implemented.

“The Sláintecare Implementation Programme is something akin to the backstop with Brexit. It’s there to ensure that implementation happens,” Dr Keane added.

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