The government needs someone to drive the 10-year plan to transform how healthcare is delivered in Ireland.
THE HEALTH SERVICE is seen as a poison chalice to most politicians, being passed from one minister to the next. But finally, there is cross-party support for a long-term plan on how to ‘fix’ the healthcare system in Ireland.
Today, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris announced the launch of the recruitment process for the Executive Director of the new Sláintecare Programme Office.
After much deliberation, the Oireachtas Committee of Healthcare Reform delivered the Sláintecare report last year – a 10-year plan to transform how healthcare is delivered in this country.
If implemented, it aims to break up the two-tier system, make the public health service more accessible and shift the whole outlook to primary care.
The costs are by no means insignificant with around €5.8 billion earmarked over ten years for capital expenditure and transitional funding.
In order to drive this reform, which is no mean feat, the government is looking for someone to get the project off the ground and push ahead with the implementation plan.
Harris said the government wants to attract very senior candidates with a strong track record in implementing large-scale programmes of reform.
With the numbers of trolleys hitting record numbers in the last few weeks, there is no illusion that this job, for whoever takes it on, will be easy.
“This will be the largest level of reform ever undertaken in the health sector, if not the public service and it is essential that we get the right person with the right skills and experience,” said the minister, adding:
We are all aware of the challenges of implementing change in our health system. Healthcare delivery is a complex endeavour and we in Ireland are not unique in encountering a variety of challenges.
Establishing a well-resourced Sláintecare Programme Office with an Executive Director and team of a high calibre is a key step towards successful implementation of reform. €1 million has been allocated for the establishment of the Sláintecare Programme Office this year.
The top job is being advertised on the Public Appointments Service (PAS) and it is expected that on foot of this process, a recommendation of who should get the job will be made to the Department of Health before April.
Whoever gets the job will report to the Secretary General of the Department of Health and will be accountable to the Minister for Health.
Harris said a number of things have been done to begin progress on the Sláintecare report, stating that Donal de Búitléir has been appointed to chair an independent group to examine the impact of removing private practice from public hospitals.
The group commenced its work and launched a public consultation process before Christmas. The group is expected to report back later this year.
In the coming weeks, the minister will also bring a memo to government with the general scheme for a Bill to introduce a governing board for the HSE.
Harris said a consultation process on the future alignment of hospitals groups and community health organisations will commence shortly.
“The government is fully committed to delivering this reform agenda. The development of a Sláintecare implementation plan is now well advanced and I expect to bring this to government for consideration shortly,” he said.