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Minister for Health welcomes “Evidence for Reform: Where Research meets Policy” Research Conference

Minister for Health welcomes “Evidence for Reform: Where Research meets Policy” Research Conference

The Department of Health hosted its second “Evidence for Policy” conference today. The purpose of this event was to explore ways to connect research to sustainable investment decisions on workforce and capital infrastructure. The audience comprised of those working in research, policy making, operational delivery and clinical care.

In line with the objectives of Impact 2030: Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy, the conference focused on translating research evidence into policy impact. The importance of cross-cutting enablers including data and service delivery reform, was highlighted to optimise the investment in workforce and capital. This will support our ability to reach an accurate, objective assessment of the demands likely to be faced by our health service in the future. It will put in place the capacity necessary to meet this demand while driving our efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our healthcare service.

The event consisted of two sessions aligned with the themes of Capital Infrastructure and Workforce, essential components of a health system’s capacity, with a keynote address from Prof. Karsten Vrangbæk. Prof. Karsten is a Professor and Director of Center for Health Economics and Policy (CHEP) at the University of Copenhagen. He discussed the Danish reform experience with respect to capital infrastructure and workforce, and the relevant lessons for Ireland.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly welcomed the conference, saying:

"Despite the pandemic placing significant strain on the capacity of our health service, our workforce and capital infrastructure rapidly adapted to the challenge to provide high-quality care in a time of need. Looking to the future, we must find ways to continue to sustainably invest in our health service, and ensure we respond to demographic pressures and continue providing person-centred care.

"This conference is an excellent opportunity to facilitate links between research and policy to ensure evidence is steering our investment into the sustainability and resilience of our health service, and that it meets the needs of patients."

To advance the link between the research community and policy decision-makers, the Department of Health and the Health Research Board (HRB) announced that it will launch its first Evidence for Policy call later this year. To allow policymakers the opportunity to harness the research community in support of strategic decision-making.

This policy-led approach to research allows the Department of Health to direct the research community to close knowledge gaps in support of better policy development. The purpose is not to influence or shape the research, rather it is to focus the researcher on key questions that will allow the department to progress policy priorities.


Evidence for Reform: Where Research Meets Policy” Research Conference

Each session included speakers from universities, research institutes, and researchers from organisations including the Health Service Executive (HSE), Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), Central Statistics Office (CSO), and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). The presentations looked at the different ways we can improve the capacity of our health service with evidence-informed insights.

Sessions were chaired by senior officials from the Department of Health– Derek Tierney, Assistant Secretary of Health Infrastructure, chaired the session on Capital Infrastructure while Rachel Kenna, Chief Nursing Officer, chaired the session on Workforce.

The day concluded with an interactive panel discussion between the Chairs of both sessions and the keynote speaker, moderated by Mary Doyle, Former Deputy Secretary, Department of Education and Skills and Member of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA). The plenary speakers answered questions discussing their vision of how research can best guide policy and reform. Robert Watt, Secretary General of the Department of Health, closed the conference reflecting on the discussion of the day and how best research can deliver impact and value for our healthcare service.