IMPACT trade union, which represents almost 30,000 people employed in Irish health services, has welcomed the launch of the HSE’s report on national community healthcare organisations. The report sets out the new structures under which non-hospital health services will be organised and managed. Community healthcare services will include primary care, social care (for older people and people living with disability), mental health and health & wellbeing.
IMPACT national secretary Louise O’Donnell welcomed the report and said that its publication would end the uncertainty around the future of the HSE’s non-hospital services. “We welcome the fact that management believe this structure will, over time, provide an integrated service for all users” she said. Ms O’Donnell said that the union also welcomed the HSE’s commitment to engage with unions in advance of the implementation of the new structures.
Ms O’Donnell added that IMPACT members were concerned that a number of attempted new structures had previously been abandoned during their development. “We’ve seen the partial implementation and changing of new structures before, and that has increased the sense of uncertainty around how non-hospital health services can be delivered. We hope that we won’t see this structure being discarded after partial implementation a year or two down the line. It is vital that services are made to work and that service users can have confidence in how it’s delivered” she said.
The HSE report says that reforms include:
- Establishment of nine Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs)
- Development of 90 Primary Care Networks, averaging 50,000 population (one network for every large town/district)
- Each CHO will have an average of 10 networks which will support groups of primary care teams, enable integration of all services for a local population and support prevention and management of chronic disease at community level.
- Reform of social care, mental health and health and wellbeing services to better serve local communities
Ms O’Donnell also expressed concerns that the new model is to be delivered within existing budget and staffing resources. “This is a concern as significant gaps remain in service provision in different parts of the country, particularly in relation physiotherapy, social work, speech and language and dietician services” she said.