Third senior health official in week resigns, citing lack of reforms

Prof Geraldine McCarthy: ‘Experiences tell me we are no nearer to required reform than six years ago’

The chair of the South/South West Hospital Group has announced her resignation from the role, bringing to three the number of senior health officials to step down from their positions in the past week.

Prof Geraldine McCarthy wrote to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to inform him of her resignation, citing the lack of reforms within the health service as the reason for her decision.

The South/South West Hospital Group oversees nine hospitals across Counties Cork, Kerry, Tipperary, Waterford and Kilkenny.

Last week Sláintecare executive director Laura Magahy and Prof Tom Keane, chairman of the advisory committee implementing the 10-year plan to reform the health service, also resigned.


In her resignation later, a portion of which was published by the Irish Examiner, Prof McCarthy said when she started in her role as chairperson six years ago there was “excitement and hope among clinicians and managers for a more devolved, modern and equitable health service”.

“Despite the excellent care delivered at the frontline by committed staff, it is regrettable that much of the needed reform of the health service has not been delivered,” she wrote.

“This includes the establishment of regional health authorities with autonomy over decisions, budgets and capital spend. It also includes free GP services for all and elective hospitals to address waiting lists and ensure rapid and equitable access to services.

‘No nearer to the required reform’

“I have waited for a long time for developments led by successive ministers for health, and government. However, recent information and my own experiences tell me we are no nearer to the required reform than we were six years ago.”

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane said the three recent resignations, including that of Prof McCarthy, raised “serious questions” about the Sláintecare programme and wider healthcare reform and called for clarity on the circumstances surrounding their departures.

Mr Cullinane also called on the Minister for Health to “urgently appear” for the health committee to discuss the resignations.

“These unexpected departures demand clarity on the circumstances surrounding it (Sláintecare), and the future of the position.

“Progress towards a universal, single tier health service has been slow since the Sláintecare report because government has not committed the funding to make it happen,” he said, adding that the lack of healthcare spending would result in a shortfall of 10-15 per cent of hospitals beds during the winter months.

"There are also more than 200,000 people on waiting lists for diagnostics, but no capacity has been added for those services," said Mr Cullinane. "Modernisation of the health service is key to delivering a fit for purpose NHS. "

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast