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CAO Annual Report 2021

UCD Health Affairs and Chief Academic Officer Group launch CAO Annual Report 2021

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(A PDF version of CAO Annual Report 2021 can be accessed by clicking on the link below:)

CAO Annual Report 2021

 The seven Chief Academic Officers (CAO) 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). 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.

(7 Chief Academic Officers from 7 Hospital Groups in Ireland)

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 strongly believes that the Irish healthcare and university sectors are at a crucial but exciting junction in their evolution and partnership. What the pandemic has revealed is an impressive capacity for innovation, commitment to implementation, imagination, collegiality and compassion amongst all those Irish agencies responding to the national emergency and their respective leaders. This is an important signpost for the future regarding the potential within the Irish healthcare community, long suspected of being present. What the pandemic has clearly demonstrated is that trust in medical advice based on best scientific evidence exists and that there is a willingness to change and follow best evidence.

Therefore, the immediate future must be marked by significant change, some of which is described in this document. The public have seen this latent energy and capacity for innovation released during the pandemic and will no longer accept procrastination and an ad hoc approach to Irish healthcare delivery.

We conclude this report by briefly outlining what our priorities will be during 2022, including assisting the implementation of Sláintecare and provide added value and quality to both the healthcare and university sectors. We welcome support and assistance in making progress in fulfilling these and commit to working with others to that end.


 (Areas of Focus for 2022 - CAO Group)

 For further information on the Chief Academic Officer Group, please visit https://www.ucd.ie/healthaffairs/chiefacademicofficergroup/.

UCD Health Affairs

Woodview House, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
T: +353 1 716 3481 | E: health.affairs@ucd.ie