Health minister to move forward with development of  regional health areas

Health minister to move forward with development of  regional health areas

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly. There is a belief in the Government that the current delivery of ‘joined-up care’ is difficult as there are six hospital groups, nine community healthcare organisations and Children’s Health Ireland, none of which align geographically.

The Minister for Health is bringing a memo to Government on Tuesday for the implementation of regional health areas.

The new regional health areas will see the geographical alignment of hospital and community health and social care services at a regional level and are set to be based on defined populations and their local needs.

The Government say the regional health areas are to be patient-centered and provide a ‘community first’ model of delivery with services, funding and governance all co-ordinated around the needs of the patient. The six regional health areas will be implemented as part of a strengthened national health and social care service and are a key part of the reform programme as set out in Sláintecare.

The newly set out areas will have devolved responsibility for decisionmaking, while following national policies, standards and strategies which government say will be "complemented by a lean HSE centre with less management and bureaucracy".

There is a belief in the Government that the current delivery of ‘joined-up care’ is difficult as there are six hospital groups, nine community healthcare organisations and Children’s Health Ireland, none of which align geographically.

The full design process will be led by the Department of Health this year (in collaboration with HSE) and the regional health areas will then be introduced on a phased manner during 2023, and be fully operational at the start of 2024.

Also at the cabinet this morning, Minister for Arts Catherine Martin will seek approval for a basic income scheme for artists from her cabinet colleagues.

It is expected that up to 2,000 artists will be able to avail of the pioneering basic income for the arts pilot scheme.

Artists chosen for the pilot will be given a basic income for three years, to allow them to focus on their practice, to minimise the loss of skills from the arts as a result of the pandemic and to contribute to the sector's gradual regrowth post-pandemic.

The Arts and Culture Recovery Task Force had previously recommended the income be set at the national minimum wage (currently €10.50 an hour), and cover an average working week (currently 33.1 hours a week according to the CSO). This would mean a weekly income of about €347 a week for those in the pilot.

The application process for artists is expected to open in the coming days after a formal announcement this afternoon.

The department previously confirmed that participation in the scheme will not be based on a means test, and that recipients of the basic income will be entitled to earn additional income.

Selection for the scheme will be non-competitive. Once a person satisfies the eligibility criteria they will be included in a randomised selection process.

A number of unsuccessful applicants will also be invited to participate in a control group, to allow for a comprehensive examination of the effectiveness of the pilot scheme.

Meanwhile, a cabinet sub-committee met yesterday where the wider housing crisis, as well as the 35,000 additional homes for Ukrainians in the longer term, was discussed.

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