A plan for the reorganisation of acute hospital services in Cork and Kerry has been published by the Health Service Executive.

The aim is for all six acute hospitals in the two counties to operate as one hospital network.

They will share diagnostic results and offer an online referral system for GPs and consultants working in specialist teams covering a number of hospitals rather than just one.

The wide-ranging plan would also see complex and cancer care concentrated at Cork University Hospital, while the Mercy University Hospital will be the regional centre for several specialist areas.

Mallow General Hospital and Bantry General Hospital will continue to provide acute care but no longer offer a 24-hour emergency service.

All six acute hospitals in Cork and Kerry have signed up to the plan.

The HSE said its implementation by trade union members will be governed by the Croke Park Agreement.

The 'Reconfiguration Roadmap' is based on input from more than 40 groups representing medical and surgical specialities in Cork and Kerry, as well as frontline service providers.

Director of Reconfiguration Professor John Higgins said the plan is the first and most significant step towards effecting real change in the provision of acute hospital services in the region.