Reilly selected only one of 40 applicants for board of State health watchdog
Only one person out of the 40 who applied to Minister for Health James Reilly for a place on the board of the State health watchdog body was ultimately appointed, documents show.
This was despite the fact Dr Reilly’s officials judged that the vast majority of applicants for board positions on the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) were of a high standard and only nine failed to meet the required criteria.
Of the three appointments made by Dr Reilly, one was of a person who applied through the Public Appointments Service, while the other two were appointed directly without having applied through this channel.
Earlier this week The Irish Times reported that none of the 28 people who applied to join the board of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) was selected by Dr Reilly. Documents showed that the Government parties divided up the appointments between them, with Fine Gael getting six and Labour three.
Four of the Hiqa board positions have been vacant since last May while six of the IBTS board posts remain unfilled after six months.
In both cases, officials have warned of the dangers of leaving board posts vacant and the difficulties in operating with a bare quorum.
The documents highlight the shortcomings of new Government rules for appointments to public bodies, which allow interested people to express their interest in vacant posts.
A minister is not required to stick to the list of applicants when choosing candidates to fill vacancies.
Another Government rule requires people selected to chair boards to appear before a relevant Oireachtas committee before their appointment is confirmed.
However, this has happened only in a minority of cases.
Hiqa plays a central role in inspecting standards in nursing homes and investigating allegations of malpractice in the health services. It is undertaking a major investigation into University Hospital Galway following the death of Savita Halappanavar last October.
According to the documents drawn up by officials last November, Hiqa and the IBTS were among 13 bodies under the Minister’s remit where board vacancies had not been filled months after they arose.
Others include the Health Research Board (five seats), the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (three seats) and the St James’s Hospital board as well as the hepatitis C and HIV compensation tribunals.