The health service is set to undergo major change over the coming years, following the announcement that six new regional health bodies are to be created.
Each of these will have their own budget based on local population needs. The six regions have been chosen based on population data, including how people currently access health services.
"This announcement identifies the six regions which will be used in developing structures for the delivery of integrated care. This will result in clear financial and performance accountability, empower frontline staff and devolve authority from the HSE to the local regions.
"These proposals will help shape the future of healthcare in this country and will give staff, and more importantly communities, a greater role in the delivery of health," commented the Minister for Health, Simon Harris.
The six regions are being developed as part of the implementation of Sláintecare, the Government's 10-year plan aimed at reforming healthcare. According to Sláintecare executive director, Laura Magahy, this population-based approach "will allow us to hear from the people in each region and ensure that a big emphasis is placed on preventing sickness, keeping people healthy in or near their own homes for as long as possible, and ensuring that excellent hospital care is available in a timely way, where necessary".
Meanwhile according to HSE chief executive, Paul Reid, the creation of six new health regions "is an important step in improving our health service".
"We want people to be able to get the health services they need, as close to people's homes as possible, with the majority of care delivered in the community and not in acute hospitals," he noted.
Mr Reid, who only began in this position in May, has been meeting staff nationwide since his appointment.
"I have met staff right across the country who work tirelessly to deliver the best care possible, and who have great energy and ambition for constantly improving what we do and how we do it. However, our current structures do not always support them in doing this. These new integrated health regions provide us with the opportunity to put in place a system that ultimately supports and enables our staff to deliver the best care possible," he insisted.
Mr Reid acknowledged that this kind of change can be "challenging".
"We will be working with the Department of Health, health service staff, patients and a range of stakeholders over the coming months to design these structures and maximise every opportunity to ultimately deliver better and more joined up services locally. There will be a clear roadmap developed in that time, so that any changes to people's work area will be outlined well in advance," he said.
For more information on the new health bodies, click here.
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