In Ireland, hospitals’ corporate structure is believed to be key to unlocking their potential

A recent article in the Irish Medical Times appears to link future performance improvements in the public healthcare system in Ireland with better hospital and health system governance. The article is based on an interview with Mr Vincent Barton, Managing Director of Prospectus, a health and social services management consultancy in Ireland. Currently, under the public system operated by the Health Service Executive (HSE) ‘there are very varied governance approaches for institutions which are all operating under the same [HSE] policy and funding framework. This is a legacy situation relating to the way in which Irish healthcare has evolved.

But, says the article, ‘Is it reasonable or fair to expect the General Manager of a major HSE hospital who is part of a multi-layered chain of command, to achieve the same levels of performance from his hospital as his peers who have the more immediate protection and guidance of a Board?’ Barton believes that public hospitals need to have their own ‘legal identity and governance structures.’ He believes that ‘the introduction of Boards in some form to major HSE hospitals, would provide the opportunity for engaging a wider range of talent in the task of governing these vital elements of public infrastructure, as well as offering the possibility of another point of engagement for the wider community with these publicly-funded institutions.

In short, the article points to better governance as an essential prerequisite to better hospital and health system performance. Read the full article at: www.imt.ie/news/2008/02/hospitals_corporate_structure.html

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