The Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare recommended the alignment of CHOs and Hospital Groups boundaries for the delivery of health and social care services. Last week, I announced the Government's intention to proceed with these plans based on six regional health areas. This announcement provides clarity on the future shape of the system. It will also ensure that other Sláintecare reforms including the implementation of more integrated care pathways and other system developments (including service planning, capacity planning, funding allocation mechanisms, capital planning, e-Health infrastructure, and back-office systems for data collection, financial management) are designed around the new geographies from the outset.
Links between hospitals and academic institutions will continue as they were prior to last week's announcement. The current system of a primary academic partner in each group will not continue under the future regional bodies, and hospitals and academic institutions will be free to work with each other as they wish. In any case, currently a number of hospitals in different areas already have links to academic institutions outside of their hospital group’s primary academic partner and this will continue under regional bodies. Furthermore, under Sláintecare, there will be an additional focus on these academic links in terms of broadening their coverage to include more emphasis on the non-acute areas, and not just hospitals, especially with regard to research and innovation.