Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health the level of services that will be provided by the eye unit at Waterford Regional Hospital into the future in the context of the rearrangement of hospital services.
Reply from Minister James Reilly: Last May, I published the Government's plan to reorganise public hospitals into more efficient and accountable Hospital Groups which will harness the benefits of increased independence and greater control at local level. The establishment of acute hospitals into a small number of groups, each with its own governance and management, will, I believe, provide an optimum configuration for hospital services to deliver high-quality, safe patient care in a cost effective manner. The Deputy will be aware that the establishment of hospital groups was committed to in ‘Future Health: A Strategic Framework for Reform’ and is a key building block in delivering on the Programme for Government commitment to fundamentally reform our health service.
Hospital Groups will be required, within one year, to develop a strategic plan which will outline how they will provide more efficient and effective patient services; how they will reorganise these services to provide optimal care to the populations they serve; and how they will achieve maximum integration and synergy with other Groups and health services, particularly primary care and community based services. The role of individual hospitals within each group will be considered in detail in the context of this strategic plan.
Waterford Regional Hospital is part of the South/South West Group along with Cork University Hospital/CUMH; Mercy University Hospital; South Tipperary General Hospital; South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital; Kerry General Hospital, Bantry General Hospital; Mallow General Hospital, and Lourdes Orthopaedic Hospital, Kilcreene. It will therefore be a matter for the South/South West Group to determine where services, including ophthalmology, will be located within the Group, taking into account the health needs of the population as well as Government policy.
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the reported transfer of up to 1,200 cataract operations awaited by patients on the Waterford Regional Hospital list to private hospitals; the average cost to the Health Service Executive of outsourcing such surgery per patient; if there was any consultation with the salaried consultants at WRH who are both contracted and keen to carry out these procedures; and if he is concerned that this effectively represents a double payment by the State.
Reply from Minister James Reilly: In relation to the specific query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.