Health restructuring plans announced

26th November 2012

Health Minister James Reilly has published his plans for reform of health service structures in advance of the introduction of universal health insurance in 2016. The proposals are contained in Future Health: A Strategic Framework for Reform of the Health Service 2012-2015.

IMPACT has criticised the minister’s planned structures and preferred model for universal health insurance (UHI), which is central to the financial reform element of the new plans. The union has said it is unlikely to deliver value-for-money or the Government’s ambition of universal access to healthcare. In a research report published earlier in November, IMPACT said patient safety and service quality was being put at risk because independent hospital trusts and other new health structures were being implemented before fundamental issues are resolved.

IMPACT’s report, The Future of Healthcare in Ireland, is strongly critical of the lack of consultation about health service changes with the communities, services users and staff who are most affected. It calls on the Government to instigate “active consultation measures including ‘town hall meetings’ to elicit the views and priorities of communities and health service users before radical reforms were introduced. 

IMPACT’s national secretary Louise O’Donnell said: “The minister’s radical plans for healthcare reform are being shaped out of public sight and without full consultation with stakeholders.”

The Department’s document contains a set of actions that the health department says will prepare the way for universal health insurance. They are:

  1. The development of a comprehensive ‘health and wellbeing policy framework’ and the establishment of a Health and Wellbeing Agency
  2. Reforms to “move us away from the current hospital centric model of care towards a new model of integrated care which treats people at the lowest level of complexity that is safe, timely, efficient and as close to home as possible”
  3. The establishment of a new HSE management structure based on national directorates, hospital groups, new structures for the delivery of primary care, and the establishment of the new Child and Family Support Agency 
  4. The introduction of programme-based budgeting and other changes to financial management structures.