hospital services to deliver high-quality, safe patient care in a cost-effective manner.
"Individually, few Irish hospitals can hold their own against the best international hospital systems. But working together in larger groups they can aspire to favourable comparison with the best in the world," it says.
The setting up of the hospital groups will lead to the establishment of a hospital trust, which will allow for the introduction of Universal Health Insurance to provide:
• better patient safety.
• Better patient care.
• Better value for money.
"Each group includes at least one major teaching hospital that usually has a full range of services such as an emergency department, surgery, general medicine, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology.
"This will maximise the range of services available to the population within each group and minimise the need to refer patients between the hospital groups."
Dr Reilly confirmed yesterday the plan was to bring 49 hospitals back into six groups.
"The smaller hospitals will do much more work, but it's work that is suitable to them.
"Less of that work will be done in the big hospitals and they will concentrate on the complex stuff," he said.
When asked about concerns that patient care will suffer if hospitals that had well-established links, involving the sharing of consultants and transfer of patients, are no longer in the one group, Dr Reilly said he had "no intention of doing away with traditional pathways".
Referring to discussions with Northern Ireland minister Edwin Poots, he said they talked about having all all-Ireland congenital heart surgery team for children.