The government is planning several high-profile announcements this month aimed at restoring confidence in Sláintecare’s reforms for health services following a series of resignations among process leaders.
The sites of three elective hospitals in Dublin, Cork and Galway – a key recommendation from the original Sláintecare report – are expected to be announced next week.
The following week, the budget is expected to include a plan to specifically reverse the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on waiting lists. Later, a broader five-year plan for eliminating waiting lists will be released.
The Sláintecare process has been turned upside down by the resignation of the two reform leaders, Professor Tom Keane and Laura Magahy, and, on Thursday, Professor Anthony O’Connor, a member of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Board.
The remaining board members met last night to consider their future course of action, amid signs of internal differences.
Some members of the council felt that he should seek to meet quickly with the leaders of the three government parties. A letter to Taoiseach was written on Friday, saying the board “continues to have serious doubts” about the implementation of Sláintecare due to “the very marked difference in perspective that currently exists”.
However, other members have suggested waiting until Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Secretary General Robert Watt appear before the Oireachtas health committee next Wednesday. The council decided last night not to send the letter but will meet again on Monday.
The health committee invited Ms Magahy, the former executive director of Sláintecare, and Professor Keane, the chairman, to appear before it the following week, but they have not yet responded.
Council member Róisín Molloy said on Friday that the process was in crisis and that she was not reassured about the commitment to implement Sláintecare. “A modified plan, removing pieces, is not Sláintecare,” she told RTÉ radio.
Well-placed sources described the five-member board meeting in person with chief health officer Paul Reid and Mr Watt this week as a “disaster” and a “car accident”, with a lot of damage. acrimony around responses from the public profile of resignations in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, another board member, who resigned this summer, called his role a “fair front”
The surgeon, Professor Paddy Broe, said parts of the Sláintecare program are “handpicked” because overall progress in health service reform is slow.
Professor Broe, writing in The Irish Times on Saturday, argues that the private hospital sector will need to help public hospitals reduce waiting lists, and suggests a public-private collaboration similar to that operated during the pandemic to improve the access to procedures for uninsured patients.
Regarding the Sláintecare public-only consultant contract, he said: “Now is not the time to impose a contract on our young consultants such as surgeons, gastroenterologists, cardiologists and anesthesiologists who provide them. will be kept “locked up” in the public hospital. “
Professor Broe was one of many doctors on the board who resigned earlier in the year after details of the draft consultant contract were released.
Another board member, emergency medicine consultant Dr Emily O’Conor resigned when the contract was not presented for discussion at a meeting. ” What happened [in the draft contract], with clauses limiting advocacy and a failure to induce intense and anti-social labor, is particularly ill-advised, ”she said in her resignation letter.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who has spoken to Professor Keane and Ms Magahy in recent days, said on Friday the government is committed to upholding key Sláintecare principles and will address their concerns.