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Saturday 10 December 2016

Reilly to pack board of HSE with health service 'insiders'

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Published 29/04/2011 | 05:00

HEALTH Minister James Reilly is planning to get insiders from his own department and the Health Service Executive to replace the outsiders on the HSE board.

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He is going to appoint senior civil servants and HSE officials to replace the 12-member HSE board, which unanimously accepted his call for their resignations yesterday.

Those stepping down include UCD Professor Niamh Brennan -- the wife of former PD leader Michael McDowell -- and former Dublin city manager John Fitzgerald.

Dr Reilly said last night that he had made his move because he wanted to reduce the gap that had developed between the Department of Health and the HSE during former health minister Mary Harney's tenure.

"If we're going back to anything, it's to ministerial responsibility. I am shortening that chain of command, and I believe this will be for the betterment of patients through improved services," he said.

The only survivors from the 12-member HSE board will be chairman Frank Dolphin and HSE chief executive Cathal Magee. They will be appointed to the interim HSE board, along with Department of Health secretary general Michael Scanlan and other Department of Health and HSE officials.

The board, which held its final meeting in the HSE's offices in Adelaide Road in Dublin yesterday, will be officially abolished by the end of the year when legislation is passed.

But Dr Reilly said the structure would still remain -- with the intention of keeping a good line of communication open between him, the HSE and his department. He said he would be able to get quicker reports on waiting times for patients in emergency departments.

Mr Reilly praised the retiring HSE board members for their "tremendous public service" and said they had got no pay-offs for offering their resignations.

Dr Reilly's move is a reversal of the policy of the previous government, which clearly separated the HSE and the Department of Health. It is part of a plan to increase the control of the Department over the HSE as Dr Reilly begins his re-organisation of the health service.

The programme for Government states that the minister and the department will be "responsible for policy and spending". It says that the HSE will cease to exist "as its functions are given to other bodies during this process of reform".

However, the switch over to a system of universal health insurance is due to take at least five years.

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