Major changes in the way the HSE is operated will take effect by September at the latest, James Reilly, the health minister, said yesterday.
The Government yesterday approved the heads of a bill which will see the abolition of the board of the HSE, with the ultimate aim of introducing universal healthcare.
A new system of seven directorates, including a director general, will replace the health authority’s board and chief executive.
The minister said he hoped the structure would be in place before August.
Last December, the Government gave the go-ahead for the drafting of the heads of the bill. The way has been cleared for the composition of the final legislation.
Dr Reilly said that the development was an important part of the process of radical reform of the health services planned by the Government.
“The intention is to put in place a system of universal health insurance, ending the two-tier system and ensuring access for patients on the basis of need rather than means.”
He said the directorate would guide the organisation towards the roll out of universal health insurance.
The current top management structure of the HSE is responsible for corporate and support functions such as finance, human resources, communications, and quality and safety programmes, rather than specifically services.
In anticipation of the legislative changes, the HSE will begin recruiting national directors for hospitals, primary care, mental health, social care, and health and well-being.
Dr Reilly said the Government came to power with a commitment to put in place a better health service for patients.
He said the administration would have a clear view of the budgets by which the money was being spent in the service.
Dr Reilly said there would be a review of the service plan at the next meeting of the board of the HSE and what action needed to be taken to stay within budget.
He said the posts would be advertised internally within the public health system and the wider “health family”.
Dr Reilly pointed out that all of the current members of the HSE board, including the chief executive, could apply for the positions.
He said the authority would continue to be known as the HSE until 2013, when it would become an integrated care agency.
“On the one hand, you could say that it would be very important to get rid of the brand — it is a discredited brand — but on the other hand, I am not going to spend valuable taxpayers’ money rebranding everything for a temporary arrangement that would only last until we bring in universal health insurance,” he said.
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