Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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417. To ask the Minister for Health the degree to which the health services throughout the regions can expect a universal level of investment and attention with a view to ensuring that every patient throughout the country can expect to receive a high level of service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17273/22]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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As the Deputy may be aware, the introduction of the Regional Health Areas (RHAs) will ensure the alignment of hospital, community, and primary healthcare services at a regional level, based on defined populations and their local needs. This is key to delivering on the Sláintecare vision of an integrated health and social care service where all patients can access high-quality services in a timely manner, as close to home as possible.

The 2020 Programme for Government committed to bring forward detailed proposals on the six Regional Health Areas to enable delivery of local services for patients that are safe, of high-quality, and fairly distributed.

In partnership with the HSE and other key stakeholders, my Department is developing a work programme for their implementation. I intend to bring a memorandum on RHA implementation to Government for decision very shortly.

Senior Department and HSE officials are leading this work. The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is also involved, given the transfer of disability policy to Minister O’Gorman’s Department.

This team of officials is on track to finalise a detailed implementation plan by the end of this year. This will cover how RHAs will impact on workforce and HR planning, funding allocation, capital infrastructure, and governance lines. The team reports on their progress to the Sláintecare Programme Board which reports directly to me. The work programme will provide for substantial levels of staff engagement and of public engagement in autumn of this year to ensure broad-ranging input to the design of our health and social care services.

Funding for regions will be determined by a population-based resource allocation formula which will take into account a variety of demographic and geographical factors. This will provide for equitable and transparent funding allocation throughout the country as well as providing greater clarity and oversight of expenditure.

The completion of population-based profiling and the design of the resource allocation model to determine how resources are allocated to each RHA will be key. The implementation plan will examine the current allocation of resources to each RHA including budget, staff, and infrastructure and will produce reports on these in the current year.

The implementation plan will review the current budgeting and financial management process and detail new processes to set up RHAs as operational delivery units to enable service planning and funding. In order to enable population-based approaches, new financial reporting structures are required as well as ensuring that financial management systems are fit for purpose. In this regard, the rollout of the Integrated Financial Management System is taking into account the move to RHAs. In addition to population-based funding, activity-based funding will also be progressed to facilitate services provided nationally and between regions.

The regions will have a “one budget, one system” approach to ensure equitable resource allocation based on local need, with a view to ensuring that every patient in every region can expect to receive a high level of service, no matter where in the country they live.


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