The head of the new board of the HSE says “the challenge” will be to ensure they deliver the best healthcare for the money available.
The 11-member board is chaired by Ciarán Devane, who outlined the key priorities for the new governing body of the HSE.
“The challenge I think is to make sure that we deliver the best possible healthcare for the money available and that we focus on the patient – patient safety and patient experience,” he said.
Mr Devane said the board would have oversight of spending within the HSE and would be involved in the health authority's soon-to-be-published capital plan.
“The board will be scrutinising and holding the executive to account for performance at all levels; That will include financial; it will include the quality of care; it will include safety.”
The HSE board includes members with patient advocacy experience. Their appointment was a key recommendation of the Dr Gabriel Scally report on the national cervical screening service.
Health Minister Simon Harris, who met with the new HSE board members before their inaugural meeting, said he and Mr Devane would develop a working relationship.
“I expect we will be meeting on a very regular basis. I will be receiving reports after each board meeting,” said Mr Harris.
The last HSE board was abolished in 2011 under reforms introduced by the then Minister for Health James Reilly.
Mr Harris said they now had an agreed healthcare plan called Sláintecare that “very much” saw a future role for the HSE.
The board is accountable to the minister for the performance of its functions and the chief executive, Paul Reid, is accountable to the board.
“It means the restoration of the normal functional relationship that any state agency has with the minister of the day,” said Mr Harris.
As minister, Mr Harris sets out the policy of the health service and under the HSE Governance Act, he sets the priorities of the board.
Mr Devane said key priorities for the new governing body included developing and implementing an effective performance management and accountability system in the HSE.
The board will also develop a plan for building public trust and confidence in the HSE and the wider health service.
Mr Devane said the board wanted to ensure the HSE's full support for and implementation of the Government's programme for health reform as set out in the Sláintecare implementation plan.
Mr Harris said he believed the HSE's capital spending plan could be published before the Dáil summer recess.
He said the Government's summer economic statement had provided “huge clarity” to the health service in relation to the children's hospital spend.
With money set aside for both the children's hospital and the broadband plan, he and the HSE would be able to finalise the capital plan that would give a sense of the projects planned over the next few years.
"This will be a capital plan that will mean more hospital beds, more primary care centres, extensions on our hospitals, investments in diagnostics and moves for our maternity hospitals."