I do not propose to accept the amendment. It relates to the appointment process of board members to the board of Children's Health Ireland. As provided for in the Bill, all members will be appointed by the Minister.
Section 13 refers to membership of the board on establishment day - the first board. The Bill has been drafted so that the existing Children's Hospital Group board, a non-statutory administrative board first established in 2013, will become the first board of Children's Health Ireland. This board comprises persons who were either appointed or reappointed in summer 2017. This is a competency-based board and includes some members of the boards of the three children's hospitals, a member from Northern Ireland and a member with international expertise. The board is currently overseeing the complex integration of the three hospitals and transition of existing services into one single body. Retaining that membership will allow the board to maintain continuity, and ensures that the first board will have the required competencies to undertake the leadership role required over the next few years.
It is possible that the proposed amendment is intended to ensure that all boards, and not solely the first board, are appointed under the mechanism outlined therein.
The Bill provides that all board members be appointed by the Minister for Health and, in the interests of securing the necessary skills and experience on the board, board members will be appointed on the basis of competencies, experience or expertise deemed relevant to the body's functions. While all are to be appointed by the Minister, the Bill provides that the board of the new entity will nominate eight out of the 12 board members. In drafting this legislation, we have been conscious of the need to achieve the integration of the three hospitals in a way that respects the values and cultures of each. One such example is the arrangements for appointing board members. Accordingly, the Bill provides for a role for the board in the appointment of board members, as is currently the case in the children's hospitals.
The integration of the three children's hospitals into one new entity is a major change programme, with significant cultural and operational factors. The three children's hospitals coming together have been at the forefront of paediatric healthcare. Each has demonstrated enormous commitment to, and has established a strong track record and a proud tradition in the provision of, healthcare services to children and young people in Ireland. The three hospitals are key stakeholders in this project, and their agreement and support are fundamental to a successful transition.
Looking at the meaning behind the amendments, I am at one with the Deputy that it is important that the board would be cognisant in its work of the needs of its staff and its patients. The Bill provides for the body to be given broadly-worded functions in such a way that provides clarity, authority and certainty in its key roles. One such role is the nurturing and development of staff. Section 6(2)(d) requires the new body to "facilitate, foster and promote, through education and other programmes, the personal and professional development of its employees...".
The new children's hospital is the largest and most complex healthcare project undertaken in Ireland to date. It is recognised that staff may be unsettled by changes to operating and service models and the location of their work and staff well-being is a key consideration during the transition phase and beyond. In parallel with the capital project, the Children's Hospital Group has a comprehensive integration programme under way supporting staff in the transition and integration of the three existing hospitals. Work includes to develop and deliver the employee engagement strategy and plan, define a list of representative bodies that will need to be engaged with or consulted and define and document the strategy and plan for this process and develop and deliver the change and people management strategy
Section 6 relates to object and functions of the new body. Its functions include that it will provide for patient safety and quality of patient care and "promote excellence in the practice and provision of paediatric services". The new body is also required to "advocate on behalf of children and young people about healthcare issues". It is clear from this that the focus of the new body is on the care of its patients, ensuring that the clinical operation of the hospital is driven by the objective of improving, promoting and protecting the well-being of children. This will be a function of the entire board and not the remit of one particular board member.
Regarding the appointment of a Dublin city councillor, as Children's Health Ireland is the single national tertiary hospital for the country and a specialist service provider for children from all over Ireland, it would not be appropriate for local councillors to be represented on the board.
There are other ways to ensure that local representatives can contribute. As Deputies may be aware, in 2016, the new children's hospital project monitoring committee was formed as a communications channel between the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board and local residents and representatives on the construction of the new children's hospital. Members of the committee include representatives from Dublin City Council, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, councillors and nominated local residents. The objective of the committee is to develop a process for communication and dialogue to address residents' concerns and issues during the construction phase. Accordingly, I do not intend to accept amendment No. 5.