The Irish Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman, have announced a new Irish-Scottish staff exchange programme for 2020. The programme will offer Learning Fellowships for two Irish and two Scottish senior policymakers or health service workers to spend 3 months working with counterparts in the other country and learn more about what works in each system.
Irish Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman
The Irish-Scottish agreement was announced on 20th September 2019 as the Irish Minister for Health, Simon Harris, welcomed Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman, and her officials to the Department of Health for a symposium on ‘Future Health – Opportunities for Collaboration’.
The symposium marked the first year of learning exchange between Irish and Scottish health officials, with a focus on priority areas to improve health in both countries. These areas are Public Health and Health Improvement; Patient Safety; Data and Digital; Patient Access and Flow; and Service and System Integration. During the year, officials visited health and social care sites in Ireland and Scotland to learn about innovative ways to improve patient care.
In his welcoming address, Minister Simon Harris emphasised the importance of Irish-Scottish collaboration in addressing common health challenges:
“To achieve the goals of our Sláintecare reform programme we must learn from other countries, and there is much for us to learn from Scotland. I welcome the work of this forum towards our shared ambition of getting the best care for our people.”
Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman, said:
“Scotland and Ireland share a longstanding history, strengthened by trade and cultural links. The Scottish/Irish bilateral relationship today is as close as it has ever been and I am delighted to announce the Learning Fellowships. I am sure this exchange will benefit both jurisdictions."
“We collaborate on public policy areas ranging from social services to rural affairs, and in health our relationship is going from strength to strength."
The CEO of the HSE, Paul Reid said:
‘‘I’m delighted to have the opportunity today to engage with colleagues from Ireland and Scotland and to hear first-hand about the important work that is taking place. As two countries we face very similar challenges and opportunities. It is important that we continue to work together to share our learning.’’
Muiris O’Connor, the Irish lead for the Irish-Scottish Health Forum on behalf of the Department of Health, said that this symposium was a very welcome learning opportunity for both countries:
“Ireland and Scotland face similar challenges in delivering effective, patient-centred healthcare. Learning from each other on how we rise to these challenges is key. This learning fellowship, which will enable officials to travel to the other country for 3 months and contribute to one of their priority projects, highlights our mutual commitment to continued collaboration.”
Background to the Irish-Scottish Health Forum
The symposium marked a successful first year of learning exchange between Irish and Scottish health officials through the Irish Scottish Health Forum.
The purpose of the Irish-Scottish Health Forum is to create a forum to support shared learning at a senior official level across both jurisdictions. During the visit of Nicola Sturgeon to Dublin in October 2017, the First Minister and An Taoiseach signalled health as an area of interest for sectoral collaboration between Ireland and Scotland. Further to this, engagement between health officials led to the establishment of a year-long health forum, the inaugural meeting of which took place in Scotland on 27th September 2018 when Minister Harris was invited to Scotland by Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman, to visit the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Glasgow.