The HSE has agreed to meet to discuss Fórsa’s concerns about the implementation of community healthcare organisations (CHOs) after the union said it was ready to cease cooperation with interim agreements, including reporting and governance arrangements.
The union has deferred any action until after the meeting takes place on 28th June.
The decision to withdraw cooperation from interim arrangements came in response to the HSE’s failure to give assurances that the CHO programme will be rolled out in advance of the full implementation of the ten-year SláinteCare reform programme.
The union said it is prepared to pull out of discussions on the operation of CHOs, and instruct its members in the health sector not to cooperate with interim reporting mechanisms, unless it gets assurances that agreed structures will be implemented as quickly as possible.
The interim reporting relationships in the CHO structures currently govern local reports to the heads of four functions: mental health, primary care, social care, and health and wellbeing.
Fórsa says the HSE has stalled on the establishment of CHOs pending the introduction of SláinteCare reforms. The union has warned that these reforms will be stymied unless the planned new structures are put in place quickly.
SláinteCare is a ten-year plan for the introduction of quality healthcare, free at the point of need, which has been backed by all the main political parties.
“Community services are the bedrock of these ambitious plans for fair, affordable, high-quality health services, and it’s perfectly possible to establish structures that can be smoothly adapted to SláinteCare if and when it’s implemented,” according to Éamonn Donnelly, the union’s head of health and welfare.
“We can’t allow the HSE to stymie the development of better community health services today on the grounds that there’ll be another initiative along tomorrow,” he said.
Talks on staffing and structural issues related to the roll-out of the CHOs got underway in January, but momentum has been lost amid indications that the HSE is shelving the initiative until SláinteCare is fully in place.
Nine new ‘community healthcare organisations’ (CHOs) have been established to manage and deliver the provision of primary and community care services across the country. The negotiations between Fórsa and the HSE have focussed on management and governance structures, qualifications and reporting relationships in the new bodies.