Background on Regional Health Areas
In April 2022, the Government approved the next steps for setting up 6 Regional Health Areas (RHAs) within the HSE.
At the moment, Hospital Groups and Community Healthcare Organisations serve populations that are grouped in different ways and managed separately. This makes it challenging for the health system to deliver integrated care. We aim to address this with the creation of 6 Regional Health Areas.
RHAs will enable staff to provide services that are:
- Integrated, locally planned and delivered
- Easier to access and navigate for patients and their families
- Available closer to patients’ homes when they need them – right care, right place, right time
We have been carrying out preparatory work for RHA design and implementation over the past number of months. This work has included:
Planning and design
In May 2022, we carried out a Design Workshop with health and social care leaders. This workshop emphasised the need to design RHAs based on the unique needs of local populations.
In July and August 2022, we continued to work with each of the RHA workstreams on the high-level design of RHAs. We considered what functions and activities should fall under the responsibility of RHAs, the Department of Health, and the HSE nationally.
The planning and development of the RHAs is being supported and led at senior management level by Yvonne Goff (National Director, Change and Innovation) and Liam Woods (National Director, RHA Implementation Lead). Since the start of September, Liam has been working on the RHA Programme on a full-time basis, with a particular focus on ensuring effective engagement with Hospital Groups, CHOs and other key stakeholders. This engagement process will be critical to the success of the programme.
We engaged with HSE Board members in April 2022. They emphasised the need for effective and open communication, as well as the need to clearly outline the benefits of RHAs for the public.
In June 2022, we engaged with colleagues from Hospital Groups, Community Healthcare Organisations and Area Directors of Public Health to provide an update on the initial planning and design of RHAs.
The insights of people who deliver services on a daily basis, and who know the needs of their local population, will continue to inform and outline our transition to RHAs. We will continue to engage with you over the coming months.
Our plans include:
- 6 regional events in September 2022, beginning a series of engagements with local services to inform RHA design and implementation
- The recruitment of a dedicated Programme Management Team within the HSE, which is currently underway
Improved integrated care in 2022
Kerry service keeps older people safely in own homes
The Kerry Integrated Care Programme for Older Persons hub in Balloonagh, Tralee, is helping older people remain safely in their own homes for as long as possible. The hub is helping to move care away from acute hospitals towards the community in a planned and co-ordinated way.
New care hub in Sligo
The Benbulbin Chronic Disease Management Hub in Ballytivnan, Sligo, was launched in July 2022. The new hub supports the Sligo, West Cavan, South Donegal and Leitrim regions in the implementation of the National Integrated Care Programme across three Chronic Disease teams.
New care pathway in Cork
Responding to the rising trend of ambulance use for non-emergency calls, the National Ambulance Service is moving from an Emergency Medical Service to a Mobile Medical Service, aiming to deliver the right patient care in the right setting. This has inspired the Alternative Pre-hospital Pathway at Cork University Hospital, which complements the national shift toward integrated community care.