The Report on the establishment of Hospital Groups which I launched on the 14thMay is the most radical and most fundamental modernisation of our health system infrastructure since the State’s foundation. To achieve the most effective high quality outcomes for patients in the most cost efficient manner possible, the reform of the structures and governance for the delivery of hospital services is vital now.
Implementation of the recommendations of the Group’s Report has already commenced. I have personally visited the areas covered by each of the 6 groups with my Department and the Director General Designate of the HSE, explaining the policy objectives and listening to the questions the staff in each of those areas have about this policy implementation. The reaction has been positive. Professor John Higgins is also carrying out a debriefing exercise, supported by my Department and the HSE, to help ready the hospitals for the impending changes. Since the launch of the Report, he has held approx. 50 meetings with hospitals in this regard. The ongoing implementation of the Report will be overseen by a National Strategic Advisory Group, which will provide guidance and on-going direction to implementation of both the Hospital Groups Report and the Smaller Hospitals Framework and provide a forum to resolve issues and assist in the development of specific guidelines on the steps required for full implementation. At hospital level, implementation will be driven by the HSE through the Hospital Groups Implementation team which is currently being established.
In preparing the Hospital Groups Report, the project group carried out a comprehensive consultation process with all acute hospitals and other key advocacy groups which requested an opportunity to be consulted. In addition, a significant number of submissions were received by the project group. As the new Hospital Groups are formed and their management teams appointed, each Group will give consideration to the consultation processes appropriate to that individual Group and to how stakeholders may be engaged with those processes.