Chief Academic Officer Group
The seven Chief Academic Officers (CAOs) of the Hospital Groups linked to the six Medical School Universities act as the bridge between the Universities, the Hospital Groups and the acute hospitals and their affiliated Community Healthcare organisations (CHOs). As COVID-19 made itself known throughout Ireland in 2020 the CAO's began to harness their resources to focus on areas that needed urgent attention. The Chief Academic Officers of the 7 Hospital Groups began meeting weekly to discuss ongoing issues facing students and staff in their respective hospitals and universities. This group was established and originally chaired by Professor Timothy Lynch who was followed by Professor Anthony O'Regan with Professor Helen Whelton taking over as Chair in May 2023.
- Professor Paul Burke - CAO, University of Limerick Hospital Group
- Professor Hilary Humphreys - CAO, RCSI Hospitals
- Professor Martina Hennessy - CAO, Dublin Midlands Hospital Group
- Professor Timothy Lynch - CAO, Ireland East Hospital Group
- Professor Anthony O'Regan - CAO, Saolta University Health Care Group
- Professor Owen Smith - CAO, Children's Health Ireland
- Professor Helen Whelton - CAO, South, South West Hospital Group
The CAOs foster partnership for the mutual benefit of both sectors through the pursuit of excellence in education, training, research and innovation. This two/three- way bridge is the key to develop an Academic Health Science System (AHSS) in Ireland as well as enhancing the core tenets of Sláintecare. The CAOs work with colleagues in all arms of the health sector and medical schools to enhance an academic approach in the hospitals and the community to improve integrated patient care. A key aim of the Hospital Group structure, established in 2013, is to deliver healthcare through the AHSS model. The appointment of CAOs to each Hospital Group was a formal recognition of this aim and of the need for a stronger relationship between Hospital Groups, acute hospitals and their university partners. As CAOs, our primary mission is to ensure that the people of Ireland get optimal healthcare. The CAOs established a national CAO weekly forum early in the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic to assist the State. The national CAO forum developed a very productive working relationship to facilitate key initiatives in medical simulation education, to improve clinical placements for students and to stimulate research and innovation through work on the National Research Governance model and the National Irish COVID-19 Biobank (NICB).
Now, to ensure the continual development of sustainable quality and safe healthcare in Ireland, the CAOs seek to establish and drive the development of the AHSS model to assist with the implementation of Sláintecare. The AHSS can be the model that links service delivery and academia, supporting healthcare education as a career choice and enabling translational research and innovation. This will support excellence in healthcare and lead to significant benefits to the patients and to the State. Implementing Sláintecare via the AHSS is the best option to develop and improve Irish healthcare. We believe that there is a need for government policy to underpin the AHSS model of care.
The CAO Group aim to continue their work into 2022 with the priorities including assisting the implementation of Sláintecare and provide added value and quality to both the healthcare and university sectors. The CAOs welcome support and assistance in making progress in fulfilling these and commit to working with others to that end.
The CAOs will
• work closely with the Department of Health, and with others to drive the establishment of the AHSS Policy Group and a national policy document. This will underpin the AHSS model and support the implementing of Sláintecare Group and a national policy This will underpin the AHSS model and support the implementing of Sláintecare.ontinue to support the establishment of the National Research Governance Framework and review its impact.
• launch the National Simulation Strategy (led by Professor Dara Byrne in NUI Galway/Saolta) in spring.
• further strengthen the partnership with the DoH, HSE, Dean of Medical Schools, Forum of Irish medical Postgraduate Training Bodies, and CHOs, and explore further areas of potential collaboration.
• conduct continuous follow-ups with universities and government bodies to highlight the need for the improved training capacity on site, e.g., simulation, educational training.
• pursue further university funding for the appointments of full professors across the sub-specialities in medicine and surgery throughout 2022 in order to promote the development of academic sub-specialities.
• undertake new projects g., pushing for a much-needed unique health identifier and joined up EPR systems.
• further represent all healthcare professionals working in our Hospital Groups to promote open transparency and highlight the need for a ‘just culture’.
(Areas of focus for 2022 - CAO Group)