Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Health
Regional Health Forums
299. To ask the Minister for Health his plans for the role of regional health forums in the governance of health services; if regional health forums will be retained in their current form; if they will be aligned with the proposed regional integrated care organisations; the way in which they will interact and relate to regional integrated care organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9034/19]
The four Regional Health Fora were established in 2006 to make representations to the HSE on the range and operation of health and personal social services in their area. These Fora are important for providing local elected representatives input into the delivery of services in each area.
I am conscious, however, that the four regions which relate to the Fora no longer match closely to the Hospital Groups and Community Healthcare Organisations set up in 2013 and 2014 respectively, and this causes some difficulty in relation to the effectiveness of the Fora. In this regard, it should be noted that the current legislation, the Health Act 2004, stipulates a maximum of four Regional Health Fora.
As the Deputy will be aware, the report of the cross-party Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, Sláintecare, identifies four core building blocks that underpin a well-functioning health system. The first of these building blocks is a clear governance and accountability framework. As part of its recommendations in this area, the Committee called for the establishment of a HSE Board, the HSE to become a more strategic and patient-focused ‘national centre’ carrying out national level functions, and the establishment of regional bodies with responsibility for the planning and delivery of integrated care at a regional level.
As set out in the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy, I am committed to the development of a new system of health structures and governance as called for in the Sláintecare report. The Strategy sets out a number of actions that will lead to the development of a new system of health structures and governance over the next number of years. This includes the following action - "define and agree a new organisational and operational structure for the future reconfigured health service, including respective roles of the Department of Health, the HSE and regional integrated care organisations".
As part of this work, consideration will be given to current Regional Fora arrangements and how best to design and develop mechanisms by which local elected officials and other stakeholders can engage with future regional organisations.