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Department of Health not capable of reforming health service, says professor

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A health expert says the Department of Health is not capable of reforming the Health service.

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It comes as the future of Sláintecare hangs in the balance following the resignation of two senior members of the health reform programme.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin claims the Government is “fully committed” to implementing Sláintecare.

Speaking to Newstalk, Anthony Staines, professor of health systems in DCU, says Ministers have shown no urgency: “It is very clear that the Department of Health does not have the capability to deliver any kind of reform programme.

“We still have no new GP contract. The department has been negotiating a GP contract for eight years at this point.

Dr Staines said that the Department of Health should be taken out of operational responsibility for the health service all together.

He added “We need to deliver the change in management processes into the HSE and into the Taoiseach’s department for political accountability.”

Earlier in the week, a member of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council warned that the resignation of two senior members of the management team was very serious.

Resistance and delay

Dr Eddie Molloy told RTÉ radio’s News at One that he was not aware of the encounters that Dr Tom Keane and Laura Magahy had which provoked their resignations, but for people of their stature to take this decision was severe.

Dr Molloy was commenting on a report that 11 members of the Advisory Council had expressed “shock, regret and concern” at the resignations.

“In light of these developments, as members of SIAC, we urge the Government to ensure the Sláintecare programme of reforms is implemented in word, deed and spirit”

At the centre of the issue was “resistance and delay” by the Minister for Health in implementing the Sláintecare recommendations, in particular the proposal for a regional structure.

The “monolithic HSE” would be subdivided into six autonomous health services.“The needs of Kerry are different from the needs of Dublin.” Devolution was the way to go, he said.For over a year it had been the unanimous view of the Council that the devolution should go ahead. Dr Keane and Ms Magahy had written to the Minster pleading with him to “move things along.”

Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke 

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