Press Release

Minister Harris updates Government on Sláintecare and announces:

– An Impact Study on Private Care in Public Hospitals, with Dr Donal de Buitléir named as Chair

– A Public Consultation on the future alignment of hospitals groups and community health organisation

– Plans to establish a Board to oversee HSE performance

Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, today briefed his Government colleagues on progress and next steps in Health Service Reform. Coming on top of Budget Day announcements, the Minister set out a number of concrete steps that he is taking to drive the reform agenda.

Minister Harris said:

‘I am strongly supportive of the vision for the future of the Health Service set out in the Sláintecare report. Today, I have been updating the Government on progress in developing the Government’s response to Sláintecare, which is proceeding on two fronts.

Firstly, we are in the process of establishing a Programme Office to drive reforms arising from Sláintecare. As part of Budget 2018, I have secured €1m in funding to establish the office, and preparations to recruit a lead executive are underway. Previous plans for health reform have tended to come unstuck in the implementation phase, which is why I am investing at this point in the implementation structures.

Secondly, planning for the implementation of Sláintecare is continuing within the Department of Health. I have updated my Government colleagues on a wide ranging programme of work which will culminate in a health reform plan being brought to Government in December.”

The Minister confirmed that a number of key steps have been taken today.

1. One of the key recommendations of the Sláintecare Report is

‘An independent impact analysis should be carried out of the separation of private practice from the public hospital system, with a view to identifying any adverse and unintended consequences that may arise for the public system in the separation.’

The Minister said “I am announcing the establishment of an independent group which will examine the impact of separating private practice from the public hospital system. I am pleased that Dr Donal de Buitléir will chair this group.”

2. The Sláintecare Report also recommends

The geographic alignment of Hospital Groups and Community Health Organisations will help to support population-based health planning and delivery. Further analysis and consultation should be undertaken to identify how alignment can best be achieved with minimal disruption to key structures.’

The Minister said “I have advised the Government that next month I intend to launch a public consultation on the future alignment of hospitals groups and community health organisations. The HSE has made considerable progress in establishing hospital groups and CHOs, but as the Sláintecare report makes clear, greater alignment between them could improve health service delivery and population-based planning. My Department will launch a formal public consultation on this issue in the coming weeks.”

3. The Sláintecare Report says:

‘The current HSE governance structure is not fit for purpose. An independent board needs to be put in place.’

The Minister said “I intend to establish a board to strengthen the oversight and performance of the HSE. This will require legislation and I hope to have a board, with very strong competencies across key areas, established in 2018.”

The Minister concluded by saying “On Budget day I made a series of announcements that apply real resources to our reform agenda, including a primary care fund, additional home care and transition beds, reduced charges for prescriptions and further investment in improving access for public patients. I will be updating the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health on the progress we are making in November and I will be coming back to Government again in December, as we build momentum for health service reform.”


Notes for Editors

· The ‘Sláintecare’ Report, published last May, is the report of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of healthcare, which sets out a ten-year vision for the future of the Health Service.

· The independent group which will examine the impact of separating private practice from the public hospital system will be chaired by Dr Donal de Buitléir. Dr de Buitléir currently leads the independent thinktank, and was formerly a member of the board of the HSE and was Secretary to the Commission on Taxation.