Concern raised over Sláintecare draft plan

Members of the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee have expressed concern that the Department of Health is devising a draft plan to implement Sláintecare without any input from the yet-to-be-appointed head of the Sláintecare implementation office.

Health Minister Simon Harris told the committee yesterday that some of the timeframes in Sláintecare , a 10-year blueprint to reform the health service, were “somewhat unworkable”.

He said it was “always a bit of a stretch” that they would have had a lead executive in place by the recommended July 2017 deadline, but that he wanted to “assure” the committee that the appointment would be made as soon as possible.

Asked why they were going ahead with the draft in the absence of a lead executive, Mr Harris said the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wanted it by the end of the year.

“We didn’t want to stall on that. But the lead executive will have the opportunity to finesse it [the implementation plan].”

Social Democrat TD Róisín Shortall, chair of the cross-party committee that devised Sláintecare, said they were concerned “in relation to slippage” of timelines.

Responding to Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher as to whether any additional staff in the department had been allocated to drive Sláintecare, Mr Harris said there were seven staff, under the director of a deputy secretary general.

Asked what progress had been made in establishing a new HSE board — Sláintecare recommends the Government legislate for a new HSE board — Mr Harris said he was “in an advanced stage with the HSE board legislation”.

He said he hoped to bring it to Government around the same time as the implementation plan.

“I would like to see it as soon as possible so we can get the board established in 2018”.

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