Press Release

Minister announces major changes to acute hospital services in Cork

Report by top level steering group published

Mr Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Health and Children today (26 July 2001) launched the Report of the Top Level Steering Group on Acute Hospital Services in Cork. The Steering Group, which was set up last year by the Minister, was chaired by Professor Michael Murphy, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at University College Cork. The Group was requested to advise on a new model for the funding, planning and management of hospital services in Cork City.

Speaking at the launch in University College Cork, the Minister said, “The report is evidence of my commitment to address service issues in a meaningful fashion so as to reshape the way in which health care is delivered and to better meet the needs of patients.”

The establishment of the Group reflects the fact that from the beginning of 2002 there will be a change in the traditional method of funding of the Cork voluntary hospitals. These hospitals will no longer be funded directly from the Department of Health and Children but through the Southern Health Board.

The Group´s recommendations envisage that overall planning issues of a strategic nature will be dealt with by an Acute Hospitals Planning Forum and the operational requirements of annual service planning will be dealt with by a Service Planning Group. It is also recognised that individual hospitals themselves will have to look at their own internal structures and a pivotal role is foreseen for Executive Management Boards in each hospital.

The report recognises that the proposed changes will have a significant impact on the interaction between institutions and accordingly makes detailed recommendations about inter-hospital structures in order to ensure the provision of “a single service from multiple sites”.

The Minister has requested that Professor Murphy and the other members of the steering group remain on and act as an implementation group, which will oversee the necessary changes.

The Minister said that he was conscious that there was a need to address service and infrastructural deficits in the Cork hospital services. 25 additional consultant posts have already been sanctioned or are coming on stream this year at an approximate total cost of £21.25 milion to meet the most immediate and pressing service needs in the Cork region. The Minister recognises that future investment will be required and this is being dealt with in the context of the formulation of the Estimates for 2002, the current bed capacity review and issues arising from the Report of the Forum on Medical Manpower.

The Minister also said that he hoped that the level of enhanced co-operation foreseen in the report will have the effect of harnessing the collective talent available in Cork and will create additional synergies in the fields of education and research.

“I fully recognise that the changes envisaged will present challenges to all the parties involved and to their professional, technical, administrative and support staff but I am sure that I can count on their good will and commitment to this initiative,” said the Minister.