The chairman of the group appointed by Government to advise on implementing the Sláintecare healthcare reforms resigned due to apparent unhappiness over how the plan was being delivered.
In a letter outlining the reasons for his resignation as chairman of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Committee, Prof Tom Keane said: "Sadly, I have come to conclude that the requirements for implementing this unprecedented programme for change are seriously lacking."
Prof Keane stepped down shortly after the executive director of the Sláintecare programme office, Laura Magahy, who was also a deputy secretary general in the Department of Health, resigned as well.
Contacted by The Irish Times last night, Prof Keane declined to comment on his letter of resignation to the committee. He previously oversaw major reforms to the country’s cancer service.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly did not comment last night.
The Social Democrats last night said Mr Donnelly “must now explain the background to this worrying development and outline the reasons for the resignations of these senior people so that lessons can be learned”.
Ms Magahy was appointed as executive director of the Sláintecare programme office in July 2018. She was a former director of Temple Bar Properties.
Earlier this year, she led out for the Department of Health in initial talks with medical representative bodies on a new public patient-only Sláintecare contract for hospital consultants, but not when this process resumed last week.
Informed sources last night maintained that her departure was not linked in any way to those talks.
The Department of Health insisted the Government was more committed than ever before to implementing the Sláintecare programme of reform.
“The vision of Sláintecare is to achieve a universal single-tier health and social care system, where everyone has equitable access to services based on need, and not ability to pay.
“Over the past three years, significant progress has been made in delivering this vision, including the introduction of a new GP contract, the establishment of the HSE board, and an agreed unprecedented investment of €1.235 billion in Budget 2021 for specific Sláintecare initiatives.
“This funding is increasing acute and community bed capacity, providing enhanced care in the community, including access to diagnostics, additional home supports, streamlining care pathways, and tackling waiting lists.”