The new head of the Health Service Executive (HSE), Paul Reid, has said his primary objective is to look at frontline services and he will be taking a look at how all managers can support frontline staff.
In response to the accusation that the HSE is “top heavy with managers”, he said his priority is frontline staff and he is going to assess and manage and redirect staff if necessary. He said he will be involved in a detailed look at how all managers can provide support for frontline staff. “We’re looking to move to a much more devolved health system and a strong strategic system.”
Speaking to RTÉ Today with Sean O’Rourke show, Mr Reid said his first seven weeks in the job have been “inspiring”.
Frontline staff are delivering services in difficult circumstances, he said. They want clarity about where they fit in with what he is trying to do. There are immediate challenges such as access to care and providing services within budget.
His top three priorities are – good quality and patient services; changing the way services are delivered and the need to build trust and confidence in all the stakeholders.
With this year’s budget of €16 billion the challenge is how to invest that money to provide better services for the public, he said.
Key to this will be to improve capacity for community services. At present in Ireland the main entry into the health system is through acute hospitals, Mr Reid wants to see a change towards delivering more services through the community system.
He recounted his career which started when he left school at 16 following the Intermediate Certificate. He joked that he didn’t start from the ground up, he actually began underground working as an underground cable jointer for Eircom and progressed through the system to become an executive director.
While working he returned to education and went on to get an undergraduate degree and eventually a Masters from Trinity College. He spent 28 years in Eircom and from there went to work with aid agency Trócaire and subsequently to work for three years with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
“That was a great time in my career at a difficult time for the country.”
At one time he had been a trade union official, an experience which stood him in good stead when he acted on behalf of the Government during the Haddington Road agreement negotiations.
He said that he thinks people enjoy the clarity of thinking he brings to his work. “I always aim to have the right team around me.”
When asked about the inclusion of private rooms in the new National Children’s Hospital, Mr Reid said that there is a need to maximise effective use of the system and a lot of people have private health care.
He said he wanted to make sure that all resources are used to maximise the delivery of the health service. He added that he was looking forward to the delivery of the Butler Report on private care in public hospitals.
Most services within the system are within budget apart from acute services and disability services, but he does not want to have to curtail services and, following the Summer Budget, is confident that he will be able to deliver the plan for 2019-2021.
The issue of the shortage of consultants is an international one, he said. It is a big challenge, but the HSE did recruit 125 consultants in 2018.