Six new regional health areas will be set up over the next two years under a major shake up of the health service.

The new structure will see regions in charge of their own budgets, planning and delivery of both hospital and community care.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said this would result in "clear financial and performance accountability" and "devolve authority from the HSE to local regions".

"We need less bureaucracy, we need more accountability and crucially we need fewer layers between the patient and the health service", he said.

Mr Harris said that the Health Service Executive was "never established in the right way and has never been fit for purpose".

Speaking at the launch he said it will be up to each region to decide how best to deliver health services.

"They will receive a budget and they will deliver services for their population within that budget. What we need to work out is the lines of accountability between them, the HSE, and the Minister and the Department", he said.

Paul Reid, CEO of the HSE said that the plan will allow the regions to plan, fund, manage and deliver integrated care for people in the regions.

He said "A lot of decisions come directly to me in the HSE, decisions that really could be made much better than I can make them at the frontline by managers and support staff. So we really need to support them and put a structure in place that facilitates them to make decisions".

The plan will effectively spell the end for the current format of Hospital Groups and Community Healthcare Organisations.

Today it was promised that these new structures will come with fewer managers, with the minister saying "it's not going to add layers, it's going to remove layers and therefore create greater efficiency".

Mr Reid said there is "no plan currently for redundancy", adding that the new model of healthcare will have to be worked out over the next year.

The minister also denied the plan was a return to the old "Health Board" format. He said not everything about the health boards or the HSE was bad but that the "correct model" is somewhere in the middle, "the idea that you devolve some things to the region and keep what's appropriate nationally".

In terms of who would make up the boards overseeing these new regional structures, Mr Harris said membership will be based on "competency skillsets", and not local councillors.

The design of the structures for these new health care areas will take place over the next 12 months, before going back before Government for approval.

This process will involve engaging with stakeholders, including the public and healthcare staff.

It's expected the new regions will be up and running in 2021.

"A lot of decisions come directly to me in the HSE, decisions that really could be made much better than I can make them at the frontline by managers and support staff. So we really need to support them and put a structure in place that facilitates them to make decisions," Mr Reid said.

The six new regional health areas

Area A:  North Dublin, Meath, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan. 

Area B : Longford, Westmeath, Offaly, Laois, Kildare and parts of Dublin and Wicklow.

Area C :  Tipperary South, Waterford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford, Wicklow and part of South Dublin. 

Area D : Kerry and Cork 

Area E : Limerick, Tipperary and Clare. 

Area F :  Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo and Galway.