Hospital Groups have been established on an administrative basis, operating within the policy and accountability frameworks determined by the Department of Health and the HSE. As per the HSE Accountability Framework for 2015, Hospital Groups are responsible for performance, outcomes, operating within budget and employment limits, with the quality and safety of patients at the core of their business. Service Level Arrangements (SLAs) will continue to be the principal accountability agreement between the Hospital Group CEOs and the Section 38 voluntary hospitals in the Group. The SLAs include agreed specific service specifications and financial and quality schedules.
I believe that the exercise of the delegated authority to be provided to the Group CEOs and the provisions set out in the Service Level Agreements between the HSE and Section 38 agencies provide sufficient scope to integrate the voluntary hospitals into the Group while recognising the differing hospitals’ legal standing, roles and prescribed governance structures, in particular those with their own boards and separate legal entities.
The implementation of Hospital Groups will progress in a phased manner, which will provide for devolved decision-making, fostering flexibility, innovation and local responsiveness, while also adhering to prescribed national service objectives and standards. A key step in integrating all hospitals within the Group will be the development of Hospital Group Strategic Plans that demonstrate a co-ordinated approach to the planning and delivery of services within the Hospital Groups. The voluntary hospitals will be closely involved in the development of Strategic Plans for their Hospital Group.
My priority for 2015 is to get all the Hospital Groups up and running as single cohesive entities before then moving towards developing the appropriate underlying legislation as part of the wider structural reforms.