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Hospital service axe report further delayed
[Posted: Tue 31/07/2012 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
Publication of a long-awaited blueprint on the future of smaller hospitals has now been delayed for nearly a year.
The report is expected to provide for the closure of 24-hour ED services at Bantry and Mallow Hospitals in Cork and at St Columcille's Hospital in Loughlinstown, Co. Dublin.
The report, entitled a framework document on smaller hospitals, is expected to move forward the policy of transferring major hospital services from smaller hospitals to larger centres in the wake of recent HIQA reports.
It will also provide for for the development of closer links between smaller and larger hospitals and for the initiation of new local health services at smaller centres.
It was originally intended to publish the report in the autumn of last year. Now the report has been further long-fingered in order to tie in with Health Minister James Reilly's plan to restructure the HSE and reorganise hospitals into groups.
These groups are expected to be fully established by early next year, to coincide with the reorganisation of the HSE into a new directorate structure, which will include a separate hospitals directorate. The new HSE structures are expected to be set up before the end of this year.
In the longer term, independent hospital trusts are to be established as part of the planned universal health insurance (UHI) system.
A Department of Health spokesperson said the Minister asnd the Department were currently examining the framework plan in the context of plans for the overall reorganisation of the health services, and this included the development of hospital groups.
"The changes that take place will have a considerable impact on how our hospital services are aligned. Due consideration must be given to the Framework to ensure that when implemented it will optimise the significant resources smaller hospitals have to offer."
The spokesperson said it was the intention to publish the framework report late in the autumn when this process has been completed.
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