The Public Service Agreement (PSA) is an essential enabler for the health sector to allow it to respond to the healthcare needs of the population in an appropriate and sustainable manner, against a backdrop of very significant reductions in both financial and staff resources. Particular reforms to date include:
the agreements to provide for an extended working day for medical laboratory and radiographer staff;
significant redeployment within the health sector; and
the first major cross-sectoral redeployment of over 1,000 Community Welfare Staff from the HSE to the Department of Social Protection.
Detailed progress reports on implementation of the Agreement in the Health Sector are available at www.implementationbody.ie.
I want to acknowledge and welcome the improvements in productivity that are being delivered by staff at local level through the Public Service Agreement in relation, for example, to staff redeployment, streamlining of management structures including clinical management roles, changes in skill mix and more cost effective rosters.
With regard to the delivery of services after 29th February, 2012, I am satisfied that suitable arrangements are in place at national, regional and service specific levels to proactively manage the impact of staff exits on front line services. The focus is on protecting and maintaining critical front line services such as Emergency Department, maternity, critical care and neonatal services. I believe there is a particular onus on all of us working in the health services to be as innovative and flexible as possible in order to mitigate the impact on services of reduced budgets and staffing.
The health sector's revised action plan for implementation of the Agreement in 2012 has recently been submitted to the Implementation Body and is currently under consideration by that Body. The is plan is particularly focused on meeting the commitments in the HSE National Service Plan 2012 and facilitating the implementation of the Government's reform plans for the health sector. It takes account of the impact of the "grace period" retirements and requires an acceleration of changes to ensure that all essential services are protected.