The start of a new era in acute hospital services in the Mid West was marked on Monday by the first meeting of the board of directors of the Mid Western Regional Hosp-itals Group. All six hospitals in the region, Dooradoyle, Regional Maternity, Regional Orthopaedic Croom, Nenagh, Ennis and St John’s are now united in one single hospital system.

This means a common model of governance covering finance, staffing and resources under chief executive Ann Doherty and the new board of directors. The board is chaired by Professor Niall O’Higgins and its member-ship comprises Dr Sheela Ryan, organisation consult-ant and Chairwoman of the National Children Services Committee, Mr Maurice Carr, Partner with BDO, Mr Seamus Gubbins, Consultant Price water-house Coopers and trustee with Limerick Civic Trust, Dr Mary Gray, GP and senior lecturer in Health Law and Ethics, UL, Professor Don Barry, President UL, and Mr Tiernan O’Neill, Principal at Corpus Christi PS, Moyross.

Mr Tony O’Brien Director General Designate HSE commented “The establish-ment of Hospital Groups followed by Hospital Trusts to manage public hospitals is a key element of the reform of the health service in Ireland. The Hospital Board of Dir-ectors has been established to promote the success of the Mid Western Regional Hospital Group by leading and directing the Group’s activities. The Board’s task is to direct the Group. This will involve four main elements:

strategic planning

policy making

supervision and challenge of executive management

accountability to stakeh-olders

The Board also has an important role in creating and maintaining a high profile for the Group at community and national level.

The Board is established initially on a non statutory basis and its business will be conducted in an open and transparent manner.”

Professor Niall O’Higgins said “Today, the first meeting of the Board represents the departure point on a major journey of improvement and reform of the hospital services in the Mid Wes-tern Region Hospitals Group. A key function of the Board will be to guide the Group effectively in the transition towards Hospital Trust status.

“Each member of the Board brings a range of wide and deep experiences and expertise which will ensure that the Board is vigorous and progressive. All members share the determination and the enthusiasm to improve the hospital services in the region. I am grateful to them for agreeing to accept this important commit-ment.

“Given the opportunity and support, the Board will assist the newly-appointed and energetic hospital executive in developing and extending specialist hospital facilities. A com-prehensive re-organisation programme is under way to promote speedy access of patients to specialist care in a timely manner. The Board will do all it can to support the hospital executive to achieve this aim. It will enhance dialogue with the public, with general practitioners, nurses and other profess-ionals and with the university.

We are committed to drive standards upwards and to cherish and treat each patient coming under its care with competence, integrity, kindness and safety.”