HSE chief says there is need of cultural change

Director general says new structures would not fix the health service

 Tony O’Brien, director general of the  HSE:  warned that the health service faced further cutbacks next year.  Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Tony O’Brien, director general of the HSE: warned that the health service faced further cutbacks next year. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Thu, Apr 3, 2014, 01:00

Legislating for structural change in the health service will make no difference unless there is also a change of culture, the head of the HSE has warned.

Director general Tony O’Brien said new structures would not fix the health service but new processes and culture would.

However, the HSE had no budget for change, he pointed out, in contrast to the newly-created Irish Water which has €150 million allocated for this purpose.

The HSE, which the Government plans to abolish, is “in transition out of existence”, he told a healthcare conference in Dublin yesterday.

“It is sliding into the past, and there are just 18 months left in it.”

Mr O’Brien warned that the health service, far from having its funding increased, faced further cutbacks next year in addition to the €600 million taken out of the budget in 2014.

The departure of the troika, which had been critical of the level of Irish health spending, did not mean good news for the sector and there would be “no bonanza”.

Mr O’Brien said there was no use talking about ceilings in the public service without also talking about floors on staffing numbers.

Staff in the HSE had every reason to be proud of what they do, he said.

“We have to lift our heads and not be dragged down by the negative commentary about the health service,” said Mr O’Brien.