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Uncertainty over opening of new Healthy Ireland office

There is no date set for the opening of the Healthy Ireland office, despite it being over a year since the Government decided to establish the office.

In July 2018, the Government made a decision to establish a Healthy Ireland office in the Department of Health “to co-ordinate and oversee the delivery… and to support strengthened cross-Government collaboration on the implementation of Healthy Ireland”.

When asked by the Medical Independent (MI) for details on when the office would be opened, how many staff would work there and what budget had been provided, a Department spokesperson did not provide details.

However, MI understands that the new office will be connected in some way with the implementation of Sláintecare.

At the October 2018 meeting of the Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group (OPIOG), minutes of which have been seen by this newspaper following a Freedom of Information request, it was noted that the Healthy Ireland office had been approved for establishment and that “… additional resource requirements for the office will be addressed in the near future. The alignment of this framework with Sláintecare is being examined.”

In terms of the relationship between the future Healthy Ireland office and Sláintecare, a Department spokesperson said:  “Work is progressing on the establishment of the Healthy Ireland office in the context of the overall consideration of Sláintecare.

“The ongoing implementation of Healthy Ireland is an important element of the Sláintecare Implementation Plan, and strengthening cross-Government working is a priority for the next phase of implementation.”

Currently, the Health and Wellbeing Programme in the Department of Health is responsible for co-ordinating the implementation of Healthy Ireland — A Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025. Healthy Ireland is the Government’s national framework for action to improve health and wellbeing over the coming generation.

The Sláintecare Programme Implementation Office is also currently based in the Department of Health, and drives the implementation of Sláintecare, the all-party agreed plan for the reorganisation of the health service over the next decade.

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