Taoiseach denies HSE chief executive forced out


THE TAOISEACH denied that Health Service Executive chief executive Cathal Magee had been forced to resign.

Enda Kenny said he understood that Mr Magee had been, for some time, discussing with the Department of Health the intended changes to the HSE structure in the context of the governance Bill.

“Having considered the new structure that is to be established, Mr Magee indicated that it is his intention to depart when the transition takes place,” he added. “I thank him for his service as a person of integrity and commitment.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin asked if Mr Magee had been “shoved out” by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly.

“The answer to Deputy Martin’s question is in the negative,” Mr Kenny replied.

Mr Martin said Mr Magee was a highly regarded individual with considerable integrity who was placed in an impossible position by the Minister on the budget, management and organisation of the HSE.

Dr Reilly, he said, had put Mr Magee in an impossible position 12 months ago when he abolished the HSE board and established the secretary general as board chairman.

“Without question, he is being shoved out of that position in an unacceptable manner by the Minister,” Mr Martin added.

Mr Martin said there was a farcical situation in the Department of Health and in the health services generally.

Health officials were sitting on the board of the executive for very tense meetings, acting as health officials one day and HSE board members another day.

The budget overrun was at €250 million by the end of May and was projected to run to €500 million by the end of the years.

“All of that was a direct result of the Minister’s decision to get rid of the HSE board without putting anything in its place, which created a significant vacuum at the heart of decision-making in the health services.

“The results will be serious for those on the front line and will be serious for patients by the end of the year,” he added.

Mr Kenny said that the HSE governance Bill was cleared on Tuesday by the Cabinet and would be published later yesterday.

Seven directorates would be established, dealing with hospital care, primary care, mental health, social care, child and family services, public health and corporate shared services, he added.

There would be a much clearer line of accountability in respect of money voted by the Oireachtas, said Mr Kenny.

Mr Martin said the current management of the health service was a shambles, with deficits at major hospitals. There had been the high-profile resignation of the chief executive of the VHI because of disagreements with the Minister.

“We have a volatile Minister and senior personnel have left the health service because of his behaviour and the manner in which he deals with people,” Mr Martin added.

Mr Kenny said it was hypocritical of Mr Martin to stand up and say the HSE chief executive was being pushed by the Minister and in the next sentence say that management of the HSE was in a shambles. “The deputy cannot have it both ways,” Mr Kenny added.

Mr Kenny said a Fianna Fáil-led government had set up the HSE, promising world-class services.