Health advisory group established


Minister for Health Dr James Reilly has set up a group to advise the Government on the establishment of a system of universal health insurance.

The Implementation Group on Universal Health Insurance will be chaired by Dr Fergal Lynch, assistant secretary of the Department of Health, and will hold its first meeting next week.

Dr Reilly said the group would play a “pivotal role” in supporting the Government to deliver on its commitment to introduce a single-tier health system supported by universal health insurance.

Its role will be to develop detailed plans for universal health insurance and it will also be tasked with driving the implementation of other elements of the Government’s health reform programme.

The membership of the group includes individuals who hold executive roles in the health service, as well as external experts.

Dr Reilly said its membership would be flexible and it would be subject to periodic review as different stages in the implementation process were reached.

The Mionister said the group was not intended to be representative of all stakeholders and that he was committed to consulting widely and “taking on board the best advice available, nationally and internationally, as part of the reform implementation process”.

The members of the implementation group are: Dr Fergal Lynch, Department of Health (chair); Paul Barron, Department of Health; Tom Heffernan, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; Liam Woods, national director of finance, HSE; Dr Barry White, HSE and Brian Fitzgerald, director of finance, St. James's Hospital and joint director of the HSE patient level costing project.

It also includes Mark Moran, former chief executive of the Mater Private Hospital; Prof Reinhard Busse and Sarah Thomson, international experts working with the world Health Organisation, the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies; Dr Fergus O’Ferrall, lecturer in health policy, Trinity College Dublin and Dr Martin Connor, special adviser to the Department of Health.

In December, the Government announced it would introduce major changes to the way in which the health services are administered.

Under the changes, the current structures that see the HSE run by a board and chief executive will be scrapped and replaced by a new system of seven directorates. These will have responsibility for running different aspects of healthcare.

Dr Reilly said at the time the move was “a step along the way” towards the Government’s plan to introduce a system of universal health insurance.