Fórsa’s Health and Welfare division executive meets today (Wednesday) to decide its next steps in a potential stand-off over the establishment of community healthcare organisations (CHOs).
The union had sought assurances on the roll-out of the programme from the HSE in advance of the meeting. But Fórsa head of health Éamonn Donnelly says the response was vague and fell short of what was required to ensure the timely development of local health services.
The executive will consider pulling the union out of discussions on the operation of CHOs – including interim reporting mechanisms – until it gets assurances that agreed structures will be implemented as quickly as possible. Fórsa is also demanding that new reporting structures should be applied equitably across all grades and professions.
Fórsa has accused the HSE of stalling on the establishment of CHOs pending the introduction of SláinteCare reforms. But the union has warned that SláinteCare 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.
“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 Éamonn said momentum had been lost amid indications that the HSE was considering shelving the initiative until SláinteCare was in place.
Nine new ‘community healthcare organisations’ (CHOs) have been put in place to manage and deliver the provision of primary and community care services across the country. The negotiations between Fórsa and the HSE have focused on management and governance structures, qualifications and reporting relationships in the new bodies.
Interim reporting relationships in the CHOs currently govern local reports to the heads of four functions: mental health, primary care, social care, and health and wellbeing.