Stephen Mulvany becomes head of HSE as Paul Reid departs after three years

Reid’s early departure will leave health service without a permanent chief executive as Covid cases rise

HSE chief financial officer Stephen Mulvany takes over as head of the health service on Monday, when chief executive Paul Reid is set to step down after three years in the role.

Mr Mulvany, an accountant who has worked in the health service for over 20 years, will serve as interim chief executive until a successor to Mr Reid is appointed.

The Public Appointments Service, which will handle the appointment process, last week advertised for the position. Barring an internal appointment, the process is expected to take at least six months.

Mr Reid, who was on a five-year contract, announced his decision to leave early over the summer.


On Friday, he said he was working his last day in the office as chief executive. “Feeling emotionally drained,” he tweeted. “This has been the most inspirational time of my career. I’m humbled & a better person for the privilege.”


As Mr Reid departs, there are clear signs of a rise in Covid-19 cases and the number of patients with the virus in hospital. This pattern is being replicated in many other European countries at present.

He has previously expressed fears the health service may have to struggle with a “twindemic” this winter, driven by a Covid-19 wave and the return of the flu virus.

The health service is starting the winter from a low capacity base, with an average 500 patients on trolleys daily and long waiting lists for hospital appointments and procedures.

While he does not plan to retire, Mr Reid (58) has said he has nothing planned for the future at present other than to spend more time with his family.

In his resignation letter, Mr Reid cited “frustrations” with feeling “constrained” in the HSE’s ability to deliver changes to “patient quality and outcomes”. He has denied these frustrations relate to the controversy over Navan hospital, which the HSE has been trying to configure, unsuccessfully so far.

Speaking earlier this month, he said the biggest regret of his career with the HSE was the deaths of staff from Covid-19 during the pandemic.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times