Sláintecare advisers seek meeting with Government before disbanding

Group wants to discuss concerns over future of health reforms with party leaders

Members of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council decided on Monday to write to the three leaders seeking the meeting, despite its term of office ending on October 24th. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Members of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council decided on Monday to write to the three leaders seeking the meeting, despite its term of office ending on October 24th. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

A group advising on Sláintecare is to seek a meeting with the leaders of the three Government parties over its concerns for the future of the health reform programme.

Members of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council decided on Monday to write to the three leaders seeking the meeting, despite its term of office ending on October 24th.

Council members have sought an extension until the end of the year to deal with the controversy surrounding the sudden resignations of council chairman Prof Tom Keane and Sláintecare office executive director Laura Magahy last month.

However, Department of Health sources indicated that the council would cease operation when its term was up and no extension would be granted.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said at the weekend he was setting up a new group to advise his department on plans to establish regional health authorities. The terms of reference of the new group are currently being drafted.

Council member Eddie Molloy, who has been asked to serve on the new group, said it did not address the breadth of concerns that led to the resignations of Ms Magahy and Prof Keane, which also related to governance issues, waiting lists and the e-health strategy.

The council wanted to use its “residual influence” to ensure these concerns were addressed, he added.

Another council member, former trade union leader Liam Doran, said members felt “one final obligation” to outline to the party leaders what is needed to ensure implementation of the original Sláintecare report.

The creation of a limited sub-group was “no substitute” for the proposals of the report as a whole.

Accountability

Another council member, Róisín Molloy, pointed out that she had been asked last year to sit on a sub-group on accountability within the health service, but that this group was never established.

“There have been many State investigations into the health service, which have exposed a lack of accountability when any adverse events occur. Sláintecare identified widespread deficiencies in clinical and managerial governance structures, and a need to embed patient safety in governance,” she said. ?

“While I welcome the establishment of the group on regional structures it is paramount that the promised group on accountability also be convened.”

Mr Donnelly is expected to announce at next week’s Budget a substantial funding package to tackle waiting lists that have swollen during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A separate plan aiming to eliminate waiting lists over five years is also in development.

The Minister and his departmental secretary general Robert Watt are due to appear at the Oireachtas health committee to answer questions over Sláintecare. Ms Magahy and Prof Keane will appear before the committee later in the month.