Celebrity solicitor in bitter row with HSE over advice confusion
Celebrity solicitor Gerald Kean is embroiled in a bitter row with the Health Service Executive after a newspaper article wrongly gave the impression that he was an adviser to the organisation.
He has also complained that he was invited to submit a series of questions to the HSE -- and nine months later his letter to the organisation is still unanswered.
The legal guru to the football and entertainment stars said he was contacted by a senior official in the HSE, Paul Connors, Director of Publicity, who asked if he would meet with health executives "and improve my understanding and views of the organisation".
Mr Kean and Mr Connors had a brief meeting at which it was agreed that the solicitor would put a series of questions to HSE administrators.
But the following morning's Examiner carried details of the meeting, and according to Mr Kean gave the impression that he was now an "adviser" to the organisation.
"I was upset," says Mr Kean. "I received many calls from people who were expressing disappointment that I had 'turned to the other side',"said Mr Kean.
"It wasn't me who leaked it," insisted Mr Connors.
Mr Kean then wrote a letter to Mr Connors on June 3, 2009, setting out 14 detailed questions on the operation of the HSE "in advance of a meeting" asking about the size of its administrative staff, its management, funding and spending on front-line services. He still hasn't got a reply.
One of Mr Kean's major concerns is the huge cost of administration at the HSE. While frontline hospital staff are under increasing pressure with patients abandoned on trolleys for days on end, the whole health area has been turned into a bureaucratic nightmare for both patients and staff.
He says that as of March 2008 there are over 18,000 administrative staff in the HSE -- outnumbering the 15,705 health and social care professionals. Meanwhile doctors and nurses were coming under massive pressure.
Mr Kean questioned the staggering salaries of health service senior executives:
- Several senior executives on salaries of up to €300,000.
- Nine national directors earning between €184,000 and €155,000 each.
- Four regional directors earning €155,000.
- 61 assistant national directors earning between €115,000 and €95,000.
There are also a host of programme managers earning up to €115,000.
He also said he believed there were up to 10,000 administrators who could be made redundant without impacting on the service -- which in the long run could save €2.5bn a year which could be used for the front line service.
"As you are probably aware from our conversation, and from my discussions on radio and television, I believe there is not sufficient support for the frontline staff of the health service in this county" wrote Mr Kean.
Mr Connors says the meeting with Mr Kean was the beginning of a strategy of having direct discussions with "opinion formers" and radio commentators to correct what he calls "incorrect statements" about the organisation.
"It was very clear from where I was coming from, there was never any intention to portray him as a consultant."
Mr Connors insisted that after details of their meeting became public Mr Kean went on a number of radio stations and said he would not be meeting with HSE officials.
"It turned into a circus -- he sent in a number of questions afterwards and I didn't answer them because at that stage I wasn't going to pursue it any further -- but it wasn't a publicity stunt.
"I am not in the business of public relations stunts," he said.
X-ray Scandal Pages 18 & 19