14th May 2013

Fine Gael TD for Kildare North, Anthony Lawlor, warmly welcomes an announcement today (Tuesday) by Health Minister Dr. James Reilly of a radical reform of the Irish acute hospital system which will have a positive impact on the running of Naas General Hospital. Under this new system hospitals will be placed in a group or trust which will have responsibility for their own governance and budgets.

“I was delighted to learn that Naas General Hospital has been placed in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group to include the Midland Regional Hospitals in Portlaoise and Tullamore, St. James’ Hospital, Dublin and Tallaght Hospital. The Coombe Hospital has been designated for maternity service and Trinity College as the relevant teaching school. These hospitals will now work together as part of a group to ensure enhanced service delivery and will allow each hospital to specialise in certain procedures. Hospital staff will now be recruited to the Dublin Midlands Hospital group rather than to an individual hospital. This change will ensure that patients in Kildare have access to world class medical staff throughout all six hospitals. Furthermore, this increased flexibility of staff will enable a reduction in the hours that junior doctors work, a problem which has become exacerbated in recent years. These reforms will not only improve patient safety at Naas General Hospital but they will also be felt directly by patients as the improved efficiency of hospitals will result in reductions in waiting lists and trolley numbers.

“In my discussions with Minister James Reilly and the management of Naas General Hospital about this amalgamation, I have made it known that I believe each hospital within the group should maintain their existing budget. This measure will ensure that the budgets of smaller hospitals will not be affected by their association with the larger hospitals.

“The publication of the ‘Report on the Establishment of Hospital Groups as a Transition to Independent Hospital Trusts’ (Higgins Report) and the report ‘Securing the Future of Smaller Hospitals: A Framework for Development’ mark the biggest reorganisation of Irish hospitals in the history of the State. Today’s announcement is a vital step in dismantling and eventually abolishing the HSE and introducing universal healthcare for all, both of which this Government is committed to doing.

“This historic announcement secures the future of small hospitals which is of upmost importance throughout the country, particularly in rural areas. It is also beneficial from a practical point of view as hospitals could not continue competing with one another for patients and funding. Going forward these hospitals, working together in a group, will balance services based on the need of their population”.