VHI chief to resume duties after inquiry into vaccination at Beacon Hospital

Health insurer says no senior staff sought or received vaccine by reason of their positions

John O’Dwyer, the chief executive of VHI: the investigation found that he received a Covid-19 vaccine at the Beacon Hospital due to his medical condition. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

John O’Dwyer, the chief executive of VHI: the investigation found that he received a Covid-19 vaccine at the Beacon Hospital due to his medical condition. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

The chief executive of State-owned health insurer VHI is to resume his duties after an investigation commissioned by its board found he had received a Covid-19 vaccine at the Beacon Hospital due to his medical condition.

John O’Dwyer had stepped aside from his position in March pending the inquiry established by the board amid controversy over individuals receiving Covid-19 vaccines at the private Beacon Hospital out of sequence.

The company also said on Friday that the VHI board was “satisfied that none of the senior management team sought or received a Covid-19 vaccine by reason of their position within the company”.

VHI did not answer questions from The Irish Times as to whether its investigation had uncovered any evidence of senior management personnel being offered a Covid-19 vaccine outside of the official sequence set out by the HSE.

“The focus of our investigation was whether someone sought or received the vaccination by reason of their position in the company. Our concern was the actions of VHI employees,” it said.

Senior counsel

VHI said on Friday that its board had appointed senior counsel Mark Connaughton to investigate the circumstances in which Mr O’Dwyer received a Covid-19 vaccination at the Beacon Hospital.

“The investigator found no evidence to suggest that Mr O’Dwyer received the vaccine for any reason other than his vulnerability by reason of his medical conditions and recent cancer.

“Following receipt and consideration of the investigator’s report, the board has decided that Mr O’Dwyer will resume his role as CEO.”

The VHI board thanked Mr O’Dwyer “for his co-operation throughout the process and for offering to step aside for the duration of the process”.

It said it looked forward to him returning to the helm of the organisation in the days ahead.

After details of Mr O’Dwyer receiving a Covid-19 vaccine at the Beacon Hospital were revealed by the Irish Daily Mail in March, the VHI board considered the issue and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly spoke with company chairman Paul O’Flaherty.