Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (1400)

Micheál Martin


1400. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health his views on whether the Sláintecare report was explicit regarding the amalgamation of hospital and community care groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32769/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

For the purposes of this answer, I will assume that the Deputy is referring to the Sláintecare report as published by the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare on May 30th 2017.

The Oireachtas report was explicit in the need for regional bodies to be established to ensure timely access to integrated care, with regional health resource allocations. The committee envisaging the HSE, in future, become a more strategic “national centre” carrying out national level functions, with regional bodies implementing integrated care at a sub-national level.  In its report, the Oireachtas Committee recognised the value of geographical alignment for population-based resource allocation and governance, which would enable integrated care and formally connect Hospital Groups and Community Health Organisations for the provision of integrated care. It was envisaged that regional bodies will strengthen the local care provision system, ensure service coordination between the different care domains and build community networks. This would be achieved through the establishment of 'Integrated Care Regional Organisations tasked with locally embedding these various initiatives'.

What the Sláintecare report was less explicit in detailing were the arrangements for the best alignment of Regional, CHO and Hospital Groups. The report states that these arrangements will be determined during the implementation of the Programme. This will be achieved across different regions and based on devolved responsibility for the provision of services in accordance with national policy. In noting this, the report states that the 'Committee proposes that membership of Integrated Care Regional Organisations will include senior health care and clinical managers with statutory responsibility for health care delivery, and that the exact membership in each region will be determined by the ‘Health Service National Centre’, CHO Chief Officers and Hospital Group CEOs, working with the Sláinte Programme Implementation Office'.

The Government decision taken last week to approve the restructuring of our health services for the geoalignment of the six regional health bodies to deliver people-centred health and social care represents the first key step in delivering on the vision contained within the Oireachtas Sláintecare Report. The proposed six regional health areas were devised by my Department and the HSE, and were based on population data including how people currently access health services. In addition, a public consultation was held to inform the geoalignment of health and social care services.

In line Sláintecare report, these regional bodies will be responsible for the planning and delivery of integrated health and social care services. In addition, it is our intention to devise a resource allocation formula for to provide budgets to the regional organisations based on local population needs and improve accountability and transparency.

As announced by my Department last week, the next step is to begin the co-design process for these six regional health bodies. Stakeholders in each of the regional health areas will be invited to contribute to the design of the services for their new regions. Work will also now be undertaken to detail the national and regional organisational design which will be brought back to Government for approval within 12 months. Once established, these six regional bodies will be enabled to plan, fund, manage and deliver integrated care for people in their region.