HSE head may apply for post - Reilly


IT WILL be open to the current head of the Health Service Executive to apply for a position within the reformed health service “if he so desires”, the Minister for Health said yesterday.

Speaking at a conference on health reform in Dublin, Dr James Reilly said HSE chief executive Cathal Magee could apply for a position when the new health directorate posts are advertised.

Mr Magee, who was appointed to his post in September 2010, still has 3½ years to run on his contract.

The restructuring of the health service was announced last year as part of an eventual move to universal health insurance.

Under the changes, seven directorates of hospital care, primary care, mental health, children and family services, social care, public health and corporate/shared services would be introduced.

Seven directors will be appointed to run the directorates, one of whom will be appointed as the director general of the organisation.

The HSE board and chief executive position would eventually be scrapped.

The Minister said yesterday heads of a Bill for the legislation to set up the structures was due to come before Cabinet by the end of the month. It would determine the precise roles that each directorate would have. He said the positions would be advertised.

Asked if Mr Magee would have to reapply for his own job, Dr Reilly said no one had to apply for their own job, but “if he wants to be a director of one of the directorates, yes”.

He said the HSE would “still be in existence” and the chief executive would “still have a role”.

“He has a job; that job remains and he has a contract and that contract remains,” he said.

Dr Reilly said the directorates would provide transparency.

“We are moving to a new, much clearer, transparent organisation where we can see who is responsible for what, where we can see where the budgets go and who is making the decisions and why,” he said.

In a statement last night responding to the Minister’s comments, the HSE said the “principal and current focus is to develop a better understanding of the new operating model and how to transition towards that model”.

It said the HSE “looks forward to receiving greater clarity on this matter in the near future”.

“The transition towards the new model of health and social services delivery is a more important consideration than the roles of any individual member of the HSE senior management team or the chief executive officer,” the statement said.

Also speaking at yesterday’s conference, organised by independent think tank Tasc, the Adelaide Hospital Society and the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, think tank director Dr Nat O’Connor said public health research was important in informing health policy.

“If you tell me the educational level and income of a person, we can then predict, with awful accuracy, their current health status, their likely lifelong health outcomes and their mortality,” he said.

Prof Richard Layte of the Economic and Social Research Institute said the reform of primary and community care was the most urgent change needed in Irish healthcare.

He said it was key to system-wide improvement, given the sector accounted for 56 per cent of gross HSE expenditure in 2009.