HSE should consider hiring woman as next head, Fleming says

Public Accounts Committee discusses process to recruit successor to Tony O’Brien

The Health Service Executive should strongly consider appointing a woman as its new director general, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has said

“There should be strong favourable consideration for a woman to be Director General. I believe a woman could bring something to it in relation to putting patients first,” Seán Fleming told the committee on Thursday. “It has always been men, and fine men, but maybe a change would be good.”

The Fianna Fáil TD said these were his personal views, not the views of the committee.

Labour's Alan Kelly and Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy both disagreed with the chair.


Mr Kelly said that “ultimately the best person should be picked” and “gender is irrelevant”.

Mr Fleming said that what he meant was the HSE should “be as broad as possible... not be narrow to one gender as in the past” in its considerations.

Former director general Tony O'Brien stepped down from the role in May when the cervical check scandal was revealed to the public.

The HSE will sit before the committee next week when Mr Fleming intends to ask them what progress they have made in the recruitment process.

The committee briefly discussed the recent revelation that private investigators were used to monitor Irish consultants hours.

The committee also intends to ask the HSE next week which hospitals private investigators were brought into and what measures are actually in place in regards to whose job it is to ensure consultant hours are fulfilled.

“I don’t know why they needed to be brought in if the management were doing their jobs,” Mr Fleming said.