Health leaders forecast great future under new HSE boards

UL Hospitals Group chief executive Colette Cowan

THE MID WEST region’s health leaders have forecast an exciting population and patient-centred future in the delivery of the Sláintecare strategy, in tandem with the implementation of the HSE’s new Health Regions in spring 2024.

Health leaders and clinical experts from across the region convened at the inaugural Mid West Academic Health Science Systems conference, entitled ‘The Power of Collaboration: Building an Academic Health Science System in the Mid West‘, at the Clinical Education Research Centre (CERC) at University Hospital Limerick.

Just a few weeks ago, Limerick and the Mid West became the first in the country to get a lead appointment under the new health regions plan, with a new executive officer.

The move is a jump ahead of the scheme, with other areas due to have their senior staff take up position in March.

HSE chief executive Bernard Gloster appointed Sandra Broderick to take up the new role as regional executive officer of the new HSE Mid West health region.

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One area of focus at the conference was on an integrated population based health system, aligning with the Sláintecare strategy, which aims to “provide high-quality, accessible, and safe care that meets the needs of the population”.

The conference heard that the Mid West’s population has grown by seven per cent since 2017 with the over 65 age cohort growing by 22 per cent and the over 85 age cohort by 25 per cent.

To add to this, it is estimated that 8 per cent of people living in the Mid West are classified as being “deprived”, “very deprived”, or “extremely deprived” with almost 12 per cent of the region’s population being classified as “disadvantaged” or “very disadvantaged”.

Public Health Mid West estimates that investing in primary care services will result in substantial cost savings for acute hospital settings like University Hospital Limerick. The public body estimates that for every €1 invested in social inclusion primary care services, there is an estimated return of over €1.70, reflecting costs averted in the acute hospital setting.

Dr Anne Dee, consultant in public health medicine at Public Health HSE Mid West, said that “by investing in the essential health services in the community, not only do you provide pathways for a healthier population, you also significantly reduce burdens on our hospital systems. Additionally, this paves the way for a more equitable health service where the most vulnerable and undeserved are not left behind.”

In a joint statement, Professor Colette Cowan, CEO of UL Hospitals Group, Ms Maria Bridgeman, HSE Mid West Community Healthcare chief officer, and Dr Mai Mannix, director of Public Health Mid West, said: “The HSE is delighted to contribute to the Health Sciences Academy in the Mid West. This partnership between healthcare professionals and UL is essential for advancing research, promoting innovation, and achieving excellence in clinical practices.”

“The focus on a collaborative approach to addressing the needs of health services for the people of the Mid West is extremely relevant, especially given introduction of the new health regions in spring 2024”.