Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has confirmed the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council (SIAC) will be restructured following a number of resignations from the group.
Last month, the SIAC’s chair, Prof Tom Keane and the executive director of the programme, Laura Magahy issued their resignations, followed by Prof Anthony O’Connor earlier this week.
As reported by The Irish Times, the remaining SIAC members met on Friday, with some seeking an early meeting with coalition leaders to discuss matters. It is understood a letter to Taoiseach Micheál Martin was drafted but not sent and the group are due to meet again on Monday.
In a letter to the SIAC on Saturday night, Mr Donnelly said the resignations have “cast a shadow over the real progress that has been made”.
The Minister added that as the SIAC is due to expire on October 24th, plans are underway to form a new group which will advise the Department of Health on Regional Health Areas, one of the key Sláintecare objectives.
“I believe we need a new group that can advise and test what is being proposed,” Mr Donnelly said.
The new group will be composed of some existing SIAC members, in addition to frontline workers, including nurses, doctors, and allied health professionals.
Plans to tackle waiting lists, another key aim of the Sláintecare programme, will be announced in the budget, the Minister said, adding: “Our waiting lists were bad before the pandemic hit but have worsened.”
The restructuring decision comes as the Government prepares to announce the location of three elective hospitals next week, aiming to rebuild confidence in Sláintecare.
However, writing in The Irish Times, group clinical director of the RCSI Hospital Group, Prof Patrick Broe said parts of the programme are being “cherry-picked” because progress is slow in making overall reforms to the health service.