HSE Plan Nine Regional Authorities

A new structure of up to nine regional health authorities is to be created by the Health Service Executive (HSE) as part of a strategy to streamline the way it operates.

Managers of smaller, general hospitals will report to local health managers, who in turn will report to a regional manager.

The State's larger hospitals, which offer tertiary specialist care to patients, are likely to report to a single national director rather than a regional manager.

It is also likely the Liffey will no longer be used as a dividing line for Dublin's hospital services and that a single region for the capital will emerge.

The HSE is said to be sensitive about the creation of eight new regions, as this would equal the original number of health boards, but sources have said the exact number of regions and the specific areas covered by each will be announced by Christmas.

However, the division of responsibilities in each region is not expected to be decided in advance of further discussions within the HSE.

According to a draft document that has been reviewed by The Irish Times, three new senior managers - a director of planning, a director of integrated care and a national director of clinical care and quality - would report directly to the HSE's Chief Executive.

The posts of national director for population health and national director of the office of the chief executive are to be abolished.

The head of integrated care, who will replace the directors of the national hospitals office and the primary, community and continuing care directorates, will oversee a network of between seven and nine regional managers.

With the national directorates of the HSE to be reduced from eight to seven, a redundancy programme announced in the Budget may focus on employees working in human resources, finance and information technology.

While some in the HSE see the changes as the key to rebuilding the health service around the patient and ending the perception of hospitals as the system's hub, some senior clinicians are concerned at the delay in creating a network of primary care services.

The news has been welcomed by a Letterkenny councillor who said that reports today relating to the setting up of nine new health authorities would essentially mean a reversal to the days of the old regional health boards.

Ciaran Brogan - who's a member of the HSE Regional West Forum - said it's a welcomed move.


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