Minister outlines intention to scrap HSE as part of eight-point plan for health sector

The Health Minister Simon Harris has said it is his intention to scrap the HSE as part of a plan for the future of Ireland's healthcare.

Mr Harris has been outlining an eight-point plan to an Oireachtas Committee, which is largely based on the development of Hospital Groups and Community Health Organisations.

He says "big, transformational change" is needed to secure the future of good quality healthcare.

Minister Harris believes looking at the HSE's future is a key part of that.

He said: "Once statutory responsibilities and accountabilities are devolved from the centre to hospital and community organisations, dismantle the HSE and replace it with a much leaner national health agency.

"But in the interim, because we can't wait for all this to happen, reform the existing legislation within which the HSE operates to improve its governance structure."

The IMPACT trade union says it supports the idea of a "significantly downsized" HSE.

The group represents clerical, administration and managerial staff in the health service.

A statement from the union agrees that a small number of regional health groups could better perform most of the HSE's functions, while reporting directly to the Department of Health.

    The Minister has since outlined the key priorities he believe are needed "to underpin the future direction of the health service"

  • Shift our model of care towards more comprehensive and accessible primary care.
  • Increase health service capacity, in the form of physical infrastructure and staffing, to address unmet need and future demographic requirements.
  • Exploit the full potential of integrated care programmes and eHealth to achieve service integration around the needs of patients across primary, community and acute care.
  • Strengthen incentives for providers to effectively respond to unmet health care needs by ramping up Activity Based Funding.
  • Empower the voice of the clinician and provide them with opportunities to contribute to the management of our health services.
  • Further develop Hospital Groups and Community Health Organisations, align them geographically and, as they develop, devolve greater decision-making and accountability.
  • Follow this with the provision of a statutory basis for Hospital and Community Health Organisations, operating as integrated delivery systems within defined geographic areas.
  • Once statutory responsibilities and accountabilities are devolved from the centre to Hospital and Community Health Organisations, dismantle the HSE and replace it with a much leaner national health agency. In the interim, reform the existing legislation within which the HSE operates to improve governance.

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