Sláintecare plan: What will it mean for the healthcare system?

Implementation strategy doesn’t deal with some of the most significant proposals

The Government has not revealed how much it will cost to implement its 10-year plan to reform the Irish healthcare system.


The Sláintecare implementation strategy aims to deliver on the actions outlined in the all-party Oireachtas committee report published last year.

The 10-year project aims to address deficiencies in the healthcare sector and pledges to tackle the two-tier nature of the system whereby the better-off can skip lengthy public waiting lists for procedures by going private.

However, the implementation plan fails to address one of the most significant proposals under Sláintecare - the removal of private practice from public hospitals.

This aspect of the plan is being examined by an expert group, which will report by the end of the year.

The implementation plan also does not include the promise of free GP care for all or free hospital care, which were commitments in the Oireachtas committee’s report.

Speaking at the launch of the implementation report, Minister for Health Simon Harris said Sláintecare was a 10-year plan which required the support of political parties and those working in the health service.

People reading the plan needed to read it in the prism of ten years, the Minister added.

“What this is about is getting away from the day-to-day and taking a strategic view of the health service. This is not my plan that will end with my tenure as minister.”

The main points outlined in the report, and the respective timelines, are as follows:

- Establish a new board to oversee the performance of the Health Service Executive and appoint a board of the HSE: 2018

- Progress the Patient Safety Bill, which provides for mandatory open disclosure for serious events: 2018/2019

- Introduce legislation for revised health structures including the review group on ownership of voluntary organisations: 2021

- Implement a patient safety, complaints and advocacy policy: 2018

- Publish a detailed action plan within three months of the Sláintecare Programme Office being established and progress reports on a biannual basis: 2018 and onwards

- Establish a transition fund to resource the implementation of plan: 2018/2019

- Develop a plan for the organisation and operation of community-based services: 2019

- Establish more primary care centres and develop a programme of investment in diagnostics facilities: 2018 and ongoing

- Assess existing health professional contracts to examine scope for extended working hours: 2019

- Develop and roll out new contracts and changes to contracts/work practices: 2020

- Complete impact analysis by the Independent Review Group to examine the removal of private practice from public acute hospitals: 2018

- Develop waiting list action plans for inpatient/day cases and outpatients: 2019

- Develop a policy for evidence-based waiting list guarantee including considering legislation to support guarantee: 2019

- Expand capacity by identifying opportunities to open additional beds: 2018 to 2021

- Review users charges: 2019

- Review eligibility framework for all services: 2019

- Develop multi-annual budgeting and develop plans for population-based funding in the medium term: 2019