HMI President, Richard Dooley called for strategic investment in the ongoing and formalised professional development of health service managers, as part of the health service reform, when he opened the inaugural HMI National Annual Conference in Farmleigh.
He warned that any reform must be radical and could not be built on a service model that was no longer fit for purpose and our solutions must be sustainable. This type of reform did not come easily and called for management and leadership calibre of the highest order.
The President said research commissioned by the HMI and conducted by the University of Limerick revealed an overwhelming majority of Irish health service managers felt that there should be urgent investment in their training and development so that they would be equipped to provide the leadership and managerial competencies required to successfully carry through the reform that the health system needed.
The challenges facing health service managers were many and varied and had been and continued to be faced up to by these managers.
“The HMI applauds the outstanding achievements of health service managers in continuing to deliver more with less and in driving relentlessly forward with many service initiatives for the benefit of patients all in a time of serious financial constraint.
“In 2011, this meant a real reduction of €683 million in the HSE’s allocation, a reduction of nearly five per cent since 2010 in absolute terms and a higher percentage reduction in real terms when non-pay inflation is taken into account.
“The requirement to live within reduced budgets, poses challenges for health service managers as well as for those delivering services. Living within reduced budgets at a time of increasing demand, brings to the forefront some serious issues about how we allocate our resources. The contracting of budgets in recent years has inevitably brought about a focus on service cuts as the means through which we cut out cloth to suit our measure.
He warned that any reform must be radical and could not be built on a service model that was no longer fit for purpose and our solutions must be sustainable
“In the current financial environment, a focus on service cuts can only be a short-term response. With the scale of financial adjustment facing the State, and with further budget reductions imminent, the focus now needs to shift to how we invest the resources that we have and to how best that resource will meet the needs of individuals and care groups in the most appropriate and cost effective ways. The traditional approach of service cuts in responding to reductions in budgets is totally inappropriate in the circumstances now prevailing. It further compounds inequitable resource distribution and ultimately runs counter to equity and access – the cornerstones on which a responsible service should be built.
“Shaping a more cost effective and cost efficient health service delivery, therefore, is the major challenge of our times.
“Today’s conference is an occasion for health service managers to engage on the many issues and challenges which we have to manage on a daily basis and more importantly it is an occasion to contribute to the debate and to shape the agenda that will decide how we want our health care services developed. It will give us an opportunity to reflect on the issues and is also perhaps an opportunity for the broader debate and engagement on the type of healthcare system this state needs and deserves.”