Sláintecare Implementation – What Has Been Done

Stephen Donnelly

New care pathways, new facilities, new technologies and new ways of working that will enable health and social care professionals to respond to the growing health needs of our population have been implemented as a result of record levels of investment  aligned with the Programme for Government commitment, Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly said when he published the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy & Action Plan 2021 – 2023 Final Progress Report.

He said the report highlighted the unprecedented progress being made in transforming our health and social care services to provide the Right Care, in the Right Place, at the Right Time. 

There had been an expansion of primary care capacity and community services to ensure that patients are treated in their locality or as close to their homes as possible.

“Significant progress has been achieved to ensure our health and social care services are treating more patients than ever before. The significant public investment, including in our community and primary services means that more people are being treated at home and in the community. 

“We now have 96 Community Health Networks in place to support integrated care across primary, acute, and community care. For example, the Bray Integrated Care Hub is delivering a range of chronic disease and older persons specialist services in the community. GPs in the area can refer patients directly for pulmonary testing in the community, reducing waiting lists for respiratory consultants in hospitals and allowing patients to be tested faster and closer to home. A total of 904,857 GP directly referred community diagnostics were carried out over the last 3 years.

“We have Community Intervention Teams (CITs) across the country, which are providing enhanced services in the community in support of the overall primary care system, providing access to nursing and home care support.  The CITs provide a range of services including the administration of home IV antibiotics, acute anticoagulation care, acute wound care and dressings, enhanced nurse monitoring following fractures and falls.  The CITs are preventing unnecessary hospital admission or attendance, and facilitating early discharge of patients for whom CIT care is appropriate.

“We have been making positive progress in relation to our waiting list performance in recent years. The 2024 Waiting List Action Plan which we published in March 2024 will continue the positive progress.  Facilities like the Ambulatory Gynaecology clinic in Sligo University Hospital are making a real difference to the women of Sligo and the Northwest. This clinic has already had a positive impact on the outpatient waiting list figures for Sligo University Hospital. Sligo is one of sixteen “see and treat” gynaecology clinics operational across the maternity network.

“More people are eligible for free access to our health and social care services than ever before which is moving us closer to universal health and social care.  Eligibility for a GP visit card has been extended to over half a million people in 2023, including free GP care to people earning no more than the median household income.  We are focused on building an equitable and world class health and social care service, where people access service on the basis of need, rather than ability to pay, and our talented health and social care workers are supported to provide the best service possible to the people of Ireland.”