Our Health Reform Team fully understands the diverse legal issues that will arise for hospitals and their boards over the next few years. With extensive experience in the Irish healthcare sector, we currently advise a number of hospitals and actively participate at board level in these organisations.
We work closely with leading international consultants who have advised NHS Foundation Trusts on the legal issues involved in the formation and management of independent, self-governing hospital trusts in the United Kingdom for many years.
Our experience with the difficulties that some NHS hospitals have faced as they transitioned to Foundation Trust status will be of significant interest to Irish hospitals and their boards as they consider their futures in the planned Hospital Groups format.
Hospital Groups as a transition to Independent Hospital Trusts
On 14 May 2013, the Irish Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly TD, announced the re-organisation of Ireland’s public hospitals into six largely autonomous “Hospital Groups” to significantly increase co-operation between hospitals and overarching systems of clinical governance and communication. Each Hospital Group will be established on an administrative basis during an initial interim period and will share services and staff.
The groups will eventually become Independent Hospital Trusts when further legislation is introduced in 2015, subject to each Hospital Group meeting specified administrative and patient-care benchmarks.
The creation of six new autonomous hospital groups will raise a number of questions to be considered by boards and medical professionals such as:
- How can each hospital ensure effective integration of patient records and alleviate all associated data protection concerns?
- How will the proposals impact on employee rights and responsibilities?
- Who bears responsibility and liability for all services within a Hospital Group until such time as the Hospital Trusts are established and how can this be governed and managed?
- How will historic and future unknown financial and other liabilities of any hospital within a Hospital Group be dealt with?
- Could the survival and viability of a Hospital Group be undermined due to financial impropriety by one or more of the hospitals within that Hospital Group?
- How will the eventual Hospital Trusts be established, managed and governed?
- What does this mean for health insurance?
- What can we learn from international practice and what international “buddies” should hospitals be linking with?
We advise hospitals and their boards in a number of areas:
- Commercial Contracts
- Data Protection, Privacy and Contract Terms
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Corporate Structures
- Charities and Not for Profits
- Employment and Pensions Law
- Advised hospital clients on the development, implementation and operation of risk management policies and protocols as well as confidentiality, maintenance and content of clinical records.
- Advised high potential medical start–ups such as Slainte Healthcare, high potential foreign entrants such as Cerner Healthcare and have been involved in some exciting projects in the tele-health/intellehealth space along with such entities as Rigney Dolphin and some regional hospitals.
- Advised on transactions reflecting consolidation within the dentistry and medical sectors.