Office of UCC Academic Health Sciences
Established in 2022, UCC Academic Health Sciences forms part of the University’s College of Medicine & Health. We work to develop and promote health initiatives and strategies across UCC’s Health Sciences, our hospital partners and community healthcare organisations, all based in the south/south west region.
UCC is the primary academic partner to nine hospitals in the HSE South/SouthWest Hospital Group (SSWHG). We also have a working relationship with the Bon Secours Hospital Cork, Marymount University Hospital & Hospice, the Mater Private Hospital Cork, and Public Health and Primary Care in the Cork and Kerry region.
UCC Academic Health Sciences works with our health sciences schools to provide a formal channel for cooperation with our affiliated health partners.
This includes developing and implementing the strategic vision and direction for healthcare education, research and innovation across UCC and SSWHG, and ultimately the successful creation of an Academic Health Science System in the South/South West region, which in turn forms part of a national academic health sciences system strategy.
Chief Academic Officer of the SSWHG and Head of College of Medicine & Health, UCC, Professor Helen Whelton, leads the Office of UCC Academic Health Sciences.
UCC will collaborate with SSWHG, additional hospitals including the Bon Secours Cork, Marymount University Hospital & Hospice and the Mater Private Hospital Cork, and Public Health and Primary Care in the Cork and Kerry region, to create an Academic Health Science System to improve teaching, training, research, and innovation in Irish healthcare for the benefit of patients, carers and health care staff.
UCC will create an innovative, collaborative, leading, sustainable Academic Health Science System within the SSWHG and affiliated community areas.
UCC will collaborate with the smaller and major teaching hospitals, community organisations to develop an impactful Academic Health Science System via teaching, training, research and innovation across the system.
The HSE’s Office of Health Affairs is based adjacent to the UCC campus, both are located within the HSE Erinville building.
As a member of both the UCC Senior Management and SSWHG Management Team, Prof Whelton works closely with each team on the development of:
- A Research Governance structure across the hospitals and the University
- Joint hospital and UCC research projects
- Improving communication between the hospitals and UCC
- Working closely with other Chief Academic Officers throughout Ireland on shared projects, including the promotion of the development of an Academic Health Sciences System.
For further information about UCC AHS, please email Anna Toner, Project Manager, UCC Academic Health Sciences.
What is an Academic Health Science System?
An AHSS is a fully coordinated partnership between a university and a healthcare system, designed to deliver quality care hand-in-hand with teaching, training, research and innovation, incorporating the full spectrum of the healthcare workforce.
AHSS’s are intended to ensure that medical research breakthroughs lead to direct clinical benefits for patients. They provide high quality healthcare across the world. Ireland lags significantly behind its international counterparts with regard to AHSSs.
UCC Academic Health Sciences works with the six Schools within the College of Medicine & Health; Medicine, Nursing & Midwifery, Dentistry, Public Health, Clinical Therapies, and Pharmacy, to provide a formal channel for cooperation and collaboration between the South South-West Hospital Group (SSWHG) and UCC, its primary academic partner. This includes developing and implementing the strategic vision and direction for healthcare education, research and innovation across the group and ultimately the successful creation of an Academic Health Science System.
The South South-West Hospital Group, with its associated General Practices, Community Health Organisations and academic partner UCC, is evolving into an integrated Academic Health Science System in a fundamental reshaping of the hospital-university model. The strategic shift reflects international experience demonstrating that the integration of education and research in an AHSS model improves staff education, patient care and research thus contributes to innovation and the knowledge economy.
The establishment of the hospital groups in 2013, including the development of SSWHG, and the current work being done to set up 6 Regional Health Areas (RHAs), anticipated to be fully operational in 2024, presents a unique opportunity within the Irish healthcare system to build on the excellence of our hospitals, combined with the innovation, research and educational excellence provided by UCC to deliver consistent high quality safe healthcare outcomes and the world class healthcare patients deserve.
Why an Academic Health Science System?
- Provide better outcomes for patients
- Ensure a stepwise improvement in staff recruitment and retention
Sláintecare presents a unique opportunity to align Irish healthcare with its partners in education, clinical research, informatics, innovation and healthcare delivery. This will allow healthcare professionals, from a wide variety of disciplines, to come together with scientists and clinical researchers to deliver consistent high quality, evidence-based, safe healthcare, research and innovation.
What is required to deliver this Academic Health Science System?
- An accountable and integrated system incorporating a joint approach to administrative, clinical, training and research governance linking Universities, Hospital Groups and CHOs underpinned and determined by government policy and aligned to Sláintecare.
- Clinical academic posts with an explicit contractual remit for clinical service, research, and education to support a high-quality evidence-based learning health system, and also to provide leadership to develop and adopt new technological advances to address health challenges and deliver health gains.
- Infrastructure development to provide up to date and fit-for-purpose facilities to enable state-of-the-art education, training, and research for Interprofessional learning, collaboration, and teamwork.
- The development of a comprehensive electronic patient record, with associated data analytics capability and underpinned by a universal identification number (ID number).
- Appropriately designed and integrated Information Technology which will enable data sharing, machine learning, use of artificial intelligence and will support cross-functional learning and collaboration.
In November 2021, the Chief Academic Officers of the 7 Hospital Groups published an visionary document entitled 'Future of Irish Healthcare: Developing an Academic Health Science System to underpin Sláintecare’. This outlines an ambitious future for academic Irish healthcare in Ireland as an essential foundation to implement Sláintecare.
Ireland's seven Chief Academic Officers (CAOs) of the Hospital Groups, linked to the county's six Medical School Universities, act as the bridge between the Universities, the Hospital Groups, the acute hospitals and their affiliated Community Healthcare organisations (CHOs).
As CAOs, their primary mission is to ensure that the people of Ireland get optimal integrated healthcare. This group is chaired by Professor Anthony O'Regan.
The CAOs foster partnership for the mutual benefit of both sectors through the pursuit of excellence in education, training, research and innovation, this is key to the successful development an Academic Health Science System (AHSS) in Ireland as well as enhancing the core tenets and implementation of Sláintecare.
The CAO Group aim to continue their work into 2023 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.
CAO Annual Report 2022
CAO Annual Report 2021
CAO Annual Report 2020
AHSS Proposal | Future of Irish Healthcare: Developing an Academic Health Science System to underpin Sláintecare
Simulation Training and Simulation Strategy