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Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, briefed his Government colleagues on progress and next steps in health service reform following Budget Day.

He emphasised his support for the report, stating: “Firstly, we are in the process of establishing a programme office to drive reforms arising from Sláintecare.

“As part of Budget 2018, I have secured €1 million in funding to establish the office, and preparations to recruit a lead executive are underway. Previous plans for health reform have tended to come unstuck in the implementation phase, which is why I am investing at this point in the implementation structures”.

He continued: “Secondly, planning for the implementation of Sláintecare is continuing within the Department of Health.  I have updated my Government colleagues on a wide ranging programme of work which will culminate in a health reform plan being brought to Government in December”.

The Minister confirmed that a number of key steps have been taken, including a decision to carry out an impact analysis on the separation of private practice from the public hospital system, with a view to identifying any potentially adverse consequences that may arise for the public system. Dr Donal de Buitléir will chair the independent group that will conduct this analysis.

Another recommendation from the Sláintecare report was that analysis and consultation should be undertaken on the geographic alignment of hospital groups and community health organisations to identify how best alignment might be achieved with minimal disruption to key structures.

The Minister commented: “I have advised the Government that next month I intend to launch a public consultation on the future alignment of hospitals groups and community health organisations.

“The HSE has made considerable progress in establishing hospital groups and CHOs, but as the Sláintecare report makes clear, greater alignment between them could improve health service delivery and population-based planning. My Department will launch a formal public consultation on this issue in the coming weeks”.

The Minister also announced his intention of establishing a board to strengthen the performance of the HSE.

The Minister concluded by saying: “On Budget day I made a series of announcements that apply real resources to our reform agenda, including a primary care fund, additional home care and transition beds, reduced charges for prescriptions and further investment in improving access for public patients.

“I will be updating the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health on the progress we are making in November and I will be coming back to Government again in December, as we build momentum for health service reform”, he added.