Plan aims to give health service better management


A PLAN which it is claimed will result in major improvements in the management of health and personal social services in Ireland, including the promotion of equal opportunities, was launched yesterday by the Minister for Health, Mr Noonan.

The Management Development Strategy revealed in Limerick contains more than 50 recommendations designed to encourage new and more efficient management methods. Proposals include more open recruitment arrangements, fast tracking of potential high flyers, performance measurement, encouraging more high level women managers and more effective training education.

Mr Noonan said the newly established Office for Health Management at Harcourt Street in Dublin headed by Mr Denis Doherty, chief executive of the Midland Health Board, would aim to change the management culture of the biggest element of the public service.

"What we are talking about is bringing about a revolution in the way managers are recruited, trained, developed, evaluated and promoted," he said. "It is the most radical change since general management was introduced to the health services when health boards were set up 25 years ago."

He added that in Irish terms the management challenge - facing people providing health and personal social services was probably unparalleled, particularly when the growing complexity of these services, the ever increasing demands, the continuing advances in medical technology and the finite nature of the resources available were considered.

The Minister said he was particularly committed the promotion of equal opportunities as to ending the under representation of women at senior management level.

"There is an abundance of talent present in the staff of our health services. Up until now, women, who make up the majority of the workforce, have been under represented at senior management level. Thankfully, that position has been improving in recent years."

He said the development strategy arose directly from the National Health Strategy, "Shaping a Healthier Future,"

The strategy also concluded that in addition to strengthening general management, specific initiatives were necessary in the involvement of the medical, nursing and other professions in management.

The Department of Health has already initiated pilot projects aimed at the development of high quality management in, the health services, he said. In addition to the pilot studies on hospital consultants involvement in management, pilot projects are under way in six major hospitals to establish the most appropriate management structures for this type of hospital.

The Management Development Strategy was devised by a steering group representing senior officials of the Department of Health, Health Boards and the Voluntary Hospitals.