Recess announcement of regional health reforms raises multiple questions

17 July 2019

Responding to the announcement of new HSE regional structures, Labour Health spokesperson Alan Kelly asked why was this announcement delayed until the Dáil was in recess, expressed surprise at the Minister promoting these Slaintecare reforms as his idea, and questioned why it has taken so long to get to this point.

Deputy Kelly said:

“The key question most people will want to know following the announcement of six new health regions is whether this will result in more community care provision. We still don’t know the answer to that question, and a recruitment embargo is limiting the ability of many parts of the health service to even replace departing staff.

“Moves to rationalise the over-centralised HSE are overdue, but many questions remain unanswered about this move. Such a major reform must have been planned over many months so why did the Minister for Health wait until just after the Dáil went into recess to announce such significant changes?  

“Fine Gael has been in charge of Health for seven years, and has had ample opportunity to choose when to announce such a change. The Government should have made provision for a Dáil debate and proper scrutiny of these proposals.

“The move to greater regional autonomy is in line with the SláinteCare Report, but much of the operational detail needs to clarified and the Dáil isn’t even sitting to allow us get answers to those critical questions.

“We also don’t know if these new reforms will cost money? We know the HSE is already over budget, with cuts appearing to affect numerous projects on the capital side. Is this reform budgeted for?

“The most important question is whether or not these reforms will be centred on delivering better services and greater care to the public who rely on HSE health and social care services. 

“To say the least, the Minister for Health has questions to answer on this proposal, and the choice of timing to announce this report will delay the necessary scrutiny of this plan.”

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