Radical primary care network overhaul

The country is to be divided into 90 "primary care networks" of 50,000 people each in a move which, the HSE believes, will see the public receive more integrated healthcare in the community.

The HSE yesterday announced an overhaul of the way health services outside of acute hospitals will be organised and managed.

Overall, nine Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs) will be established. Each of those CHOs will have 10 primary care networks each which, according to the HSE, will:

- Support groups of primary care teams;

- Enable integration of all services for a local population;

- Support prevention and management of chronic disease at community level.

The HSE said there will also be a reform of social care, mental health and health and wellbeing services to better serve local communities.

The changes follow a review of existing structures which found that while many people experienced a good service, they had difficulty with the complexity and scale of arrangements.

Tony O’Brien, director general of the HSE said: “In 2014, more than half of our total health spend on operational services is in the community healthcare sector. This sector is significant and the reform of these structures will facilitate a move towards a more integrated health care system, improving services for the public by providing better and easier access to services, services that are close to where people live, more local decision making and services in which people can have confidence.”

Pat Healy, the HSE’s national director social care, who led the review, said: “The delivery of integrated care is very important for those who use our services and for staff. These new structures will enable more ‘joined up’ working arrangements that will see all community and acute services working together in a coordinated way to meet people’s assessed needs. This will be achieved in terms of ease of access for patients/service users through the different community and acute healthcare services as well as the quality of service they receive.”

Louise O’Donnell, national secretary of Impact, which represents 30,000 workers in the health service, welcomed the announcement saying it would end the uncertainty around the future of the HSE’s non-hospital services.

“It is vital that services are made to work and that service users can have confidence in how it’s delivered.”


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