Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Questions (238, 239)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

238. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health when the small hospitals framework report will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21872/13]

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Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

239. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health when the Higgins report will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21873/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 238 and 239 together.

Clear information about the role of our smaller hospitals and what they will do in the future is offered in Securing the Future of Smaller Hospitals: A Framework for Development, which focuses in particular on the role of nine smaller hospitals that have been the subject of particular attention from the Health Information and Quality Authority. The principles behind it will apply to all smaller hospitals, regardless of whether they are specifically referenced. In developing the framework, the Government is clear that there is an important future role for smaller hospitals, in which they will provide services for more patients, not fewer; that no acute hospital will close; and that safety issues in all acute hospitals, large or small, must be fully addressed by providing the right type of service for the right patient in the right setting. This framework demonstrates clearly that the future of smaller hospitals is secure. It outlines the need for smaller hospitals and larger hospitals to operate together. Therefore, it is intrinsically linked to the ongoing work regarding the development of hospital groups.

We know that the traditional practice of providing as many services as possible in every hospital is neither sustainable nor safe. The formation of Irish acute hospitals into a small number of groups, each with its own governance and management, will provide an optimum opportunity for hospital services to be configured to deliver high-quality, safe patient care in a cost-effective manner. It was with this in mind that I appointed Professor John Higgins in June of last year to chair a strategic board on the establishment of hospital groups. I have received Professor Higgins's report, which is based on a comprehensive consultation process and contains almost 60 recommendations on the formation, management and governance of hospital groups, all of which are strongly endorsed by the strategic board.

I will shortly submit this report to the Government to consider and decide on the final formation of each hospital group. I appreciate that this report and the related Government decision are anxiously awaited. As this is the most radical and most fundamental modernisation of our health system infrastructure since the State's foundation, I take very seriously my obligation to consider the report closely and to assure myself and my Cabinet colleagues that it provides a robust basis to enable timely access to a high-quality and sustainable hospital service for those who need it. The Government will decide on the initial make-up of hospital groups which will be established on an administrative basis, pending the legislation required to set up hospital trusts by 2015. Before those trusts are established, the composition and functioning of the groups will be reviewed. If changes prove necessary, they will be made with Government approval when the hospital trusts are being formed. It is my intention to bring both of these reports to the Government in the near future for approval and to publish them shortly thereafter.