In August 2018, I published the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy which provides the framework within which a system-wide health reform programme will be advanced. The Strategy contains specific commitments in relation to improving governance and accountability across the health service.
The task of identifying the optimal set of health structures including national and regional bodies, and the most appropriate governance, accountability and performance framework for the future health system will be an important stream of work under the Sláintecare programme of reform. As set out in the Implementation Strategy, I am committed to the development of a new system of health structures comprising a leaner national centre with responsibility for national planning, strategy and standard setting, complemented by regional integrated care organisations with responsibility for the planning and delivery of services at a regional level.
As a first step, my Department undertook a public consultation regarding the geographical alignment of current regional structures, Hospital Groups and Community Healthcare Organisations, in 2018. The submissions to the consultation have been analysed by my Department and I hope to bring proposals to Government regarding geographical alignment shortly.
In parallel, my Department has commenced developing proposals in relation to the reconfiguration of health service structures, including the development of regional integrated care organisations. This will include consideration of the respective roles and responsibilities of the Department of Health, HSE national centre and new regional bodies, and the governance arrangements that will apply. I expect to bring these detailed proposals regarding these regional organisations to Government in late 2019.