I propose to take Questions Nos. 251 to 253, inclusive, together.
The Report on the establishment of Hospital Groups which I launched on 14 May 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.
Implementation of the Report will be overseen by a National Strategic Advisory Group and driven by the HSE through the Hospital Groups Implementation team which is currently being established. The National Strategic Advisory Group will be chaired by Mr Leo Kearns, CEO of the Royal College of Physicians. Professor John Higgins will also be a member of this group, providing continuity and building on the significant goodwill and reassurance he has brought to the formative phase of the establishment of these groups. The group will provide guidance and on-going direction in relation to implementation of both the Hospital Groups Report and the Smaller Hospitals Framework. It will also provide a forum to resolve issues and assist in the development of specific guidelines on the steps required for full implementation.
I will appoint Chairs of each Group in the next few weeks. Advertisements to seek other board members will be placed in parallel with the process of appointing the Group Chairs and the subsequent appointment of group CEOs and management teams. All appointments will be made based on the competencies the individual brings to the Board in line with the HIQA report on Tallaght.
Within one year of the formation of Hospital Groups, individual groups will be required to submit a strategic plan which will outline its plans for future services within the group area. These strategic plans will determine the way services are provided within each group. The implementation of these plans by each group with then be rigorously reviewed, including all necessary due diligence checks, to see whether they are in a position to advance to Hospital Trust status after the necessary legislation is put in place.