Sláintecare action plan includes three new hospitals in Dublin, Cork and Galway

Public-only consultant contracts and hiring 70,000 healthcare staff by 2023 also planned

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly chats with staff at Reeves Day Surgery in Tallaght as he launches the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy & Action Plan 2021-2023. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly chats with staff at Reeves Day Surgery in Tallaght as he launches the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy & Action Plan 2021-2023. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

 

Sites for three new elective hospitals in Dublin, Cork and Galway are being sought as part of a €3.7 billion plan for the future of the health service.

The Sláintecare implementation office invited submissions for the sites on Wednesday and plans to begin building them over the next three years.

The hiring of 7,000 healthcare staff, to be based in the community, and implementation of a medium-term plan to reduce waiting lists are also envisaged between now and 2023.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly published an implementation strategy and action plan for Sláintecare, the plan for the future of the healthcare service published in 2018.

Mr Donnelly said “informal” contacts had begun with doctor representatives over the provision of public-only consultant contracts, one of the foundation stones of the plan.

Over the next three years, 31 additional primary care centres will be built, bringing the total to 173, according to the implementation plan.

Specialist hubs

The plan also envisages 32 specialist hubs for treating older people in the community rather than in hospital, as well as additional resources for 18 of the most disadvantaged communities.

Services will in future be delivered by six new regional health areas to replace the current system of hospital groups and community healthcare organisations.

While waiting lists have lengthened during the Covid-19 pandemic, Sláintecare aims to ensure patients wait no longer than 12 weeks for an inpatient procedure, 10 weeks for an outpatient appointment or diagnostics test, and four hours in an emergency department.

“We know our waiting lists are too long, and we are committed to reducing them by undertaking a series of connected initiatives focusing on providing extra capacity in the system, encouraging productivity measures and ensuring that care is offered in the right location, in order to achieve waiting time targets,” said Laura Magahy, executive director of the Sláintecare implementation office.

Mr Donnelly launched the plan at a new day surgery centre at Tallaght University Hospital, located across the road from the main building. It sees patients with serious conditions directly without them having to go through the outpatient process, thereby cutting waiting lists.