Health care administration across the West is in line for another overhaul under Sláintcare, a ten-year roadmap agreed by all political parties to build better health services.
As part of the reconfiguration, Galway will be included in one of six new regional health zones, which will aim to provide more integrated care.
Now known as Region F, it will include counties Galway, Roscommon, Mayo, Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim.
Currently, health zones in Ireland are divided into nine CHOs or Community Health Organizations.
Galway, Mayo and Roscommon (now known as HSE West) make up CHO2. There are currently five counties in CHO1 including Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal (collectively known as HSE North West) Cavan and Monaghan.
The new health board area, or Regional Health Area F, will combine the counties of HSE West and HSE North West; this will align them with the hospital group that covers these six counties.
According to 2016 census figures, this new regional health zone will serve a population of more than 700,000 people.
The new regional health area will better align with the existing hospital cluster along the west and north-west – the Saolta University Healthcare Cluster, which includes University Hospitals Galway (UHG and Merlin Park), as well as hospitals in Portiuncula, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Letterkenny. .
The government has confirmed that there will be a “gradual introduction” of the new bodies in 2023, and that they will be “fully operational” from the following year.
“Currently, community health and social services are planned, funded and delivered separately from hospital services. There are nine community health care organizations (CHOs) and seven hospital groups, which provide services in various parts of the country. Hospital groups and CHOs serve clustered populations in different ways, making it difficult for the health system to deliver integrated care.
“The creation of six regional health areas aims to remedy this. RHAs are geographical units with clearly defined populations. They align community and hospital services in specific areas. The HSE will retain a strong but lean central organisation, with more service delivery developed locally,” an HSE spokesperson explained.
The HSE said it was planning a series of information events to explain the impacts of the changes on staff.