Following the government decision to transfer the Specialist Community Based Disability Services from my Department to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, planning is well underway.
Given the scale of the transfer and the significant budget involved (c. €2.2bn in 2021), Human Resources, policy, legal and governance workstreams are underway within my Department to sequence the range of tasks necessary to effectively complete the transfer of responsibility. A Project Group has been created with representatives from both Departments to prioritise the project and senior officials have been assigned responsibility for this. Fortnightly bi-lateral meetings are taking place to ensure an efficient, collaborative approach to the overall programme of work. Relevant officials have also engaged with colleagues in the Health Service Executive.
The transfer will require the Health Service Executive to report to two Ministers for different elements of its functions and amending legislation is required to the governing Act of the Health Service Executive, namely the Health Act 2004. Following significant engagement over a period of months, an overarching legislative framework has been agreed to provide for a robust accountability structure between the Health Service Executive and the Minister of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
On the 23rd of November 2021 Government approved the priority drafting of legislation, the Health (Amendment) Bill 2021, to enable the transfer. I will shortly be seeking Government approval to proceed with the publication of the Bill to facilitate timely passage through the Oireachtas and to implement the transfer as soon as possible.