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The Minister for Health James Reilly has announced three appointments as part of the health service reform programme and the recommendations of the Report of the investigation into the quality, safety and governance of the care provided by Tallaght Hospital for patients who require acute admission.

The establishment of Hospital Groups followed by Hospital Trusts to manage public hospitals is a key element of the reform.

Professor John R Higgins has been appointed to work with the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) in the role of Chair of a Strategic Board to assist the Department of Health in the design and establishment of Hospital Groups. Professor Higgins is the UCC Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) and the Head of College of Medicine & Health at UCC. His role will be to implement the agreed Project Plan for the creation of Hospital Groups initially and ultimately Independent Hospital Trusts.

Professor Niall O’Higginshas been appointed as Chair of the Mid-Western Regional Hospital Group. He is currently Professor Emeritus of Surgery, University College Dublin.

Mr Noel Daly has also been appointed to the role of Chair the Galway Roscommon University Hospital Group. Mr Daly has worked in the health services at home and overseas. He was Chief Executive of An Bord Altranais (The Nursing Board) from 1982 until 1988 and served in senior management positions in healthcare in the UK and USA before establishing The Health Partnership in Ireland in 2004.

The term of the appointments is for three years and the boards of the groups will be established initially on a non-statutory basis.

Furthermore, Minister Reilly has established an oversight group to oversee the implementation of its significant recommendations. The group will be chaired by Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer and will consist of Dr Beth Lilja, Director, Danish Society for Patient Safety; Dr Carol Peden, Royal United Hospital, Bath; Mr David Dalton, CEO, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust; Mr Gerry Marr, CEO, NHS Board Headquarters; Dr Deirdre Madden, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University College Cork; and Dr Fergus Clancy, Chairman, Independent Hospital Association of Ireland. Confirmation is awaited from two further members.

The group will begin its work before the end of June.