Monday 20 January 2020

Taoiseach announces Laura Magahy to oversee 'Slaintecare' plan to overhaul health service

Laura Magahy
Laura Magahy
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A leading light of the Celtic Tiger era, who was a key figure in the ill-fated ‘Bertie Bowl,’ has been chosen to take charge of the plan to transform the Irish health service.

Laura Magahy is to be head of the implementation office to oversee Slaintecare, the blueprint to overhaul the health service over the next decade.

The Sláintecare report was produced by a cross-party committee of TDs last year and adopted by the Dáil without a vote. It contains a 10-year plan for the reform of the health service, transforming it from a mix of public and private care into “an affordable, universal, single-tier healthcare system, in which patients are treated promptly on the basis of need, rather than ability to pay”.

One of its aims is to provide everyone with free GP care and remove private practice from public hospitals.

However, it will cost an additional  €2.86bn over 10 years- a figure hospital consultants is a major underestimate

Health Minister Simon Harris is to announce Ms Mahagy’s appointment.

Ms Magahy is a former director of Temple Bar Properties and former project manager of the Irish Film Institute. She also led the proposed project to relocate Temple Street children’s hospital to the Mater hospital site.

After leaving Temple Bar in 2000, she won a lucrative contract to provide executive services for the ill-fated “Bertie Bowl” – named after former taoiseach Bertie Ahern – and Sports Campus Ireland at Abbotstown.

Her consortium won a similar contract to develop the Digital Hub in Dublin’s Liberties area.

Ms Magahy’s biography says her particular experience is “in charting and implementing strategic organisational change, with a particular expertise in healthcare”.

The ‘Bertie Bowl” was officially titled Stadium Ireland and the idea was to build a huge sports campus in Abbottstown in west Dublin on a 500-acre plot of land.

A range of sports facilities were to be included, from a 15,000-seat indoor arena, several sports halls and tennis courts, to a sports science and medical centre.

An aquatic centre with a 50m pool was later added to this already ambitious list, as well as a golf academy, velodrome and offices for sports organisations.

But the flagship feature of the Bertie Bowl was to be a 65,000 all-seat stadium to replace Lansdowne Road. At the time, the old Lansdowne Road ground, which hosted both international soccer and rugby matches, was in a dilapidated state.

It cost €43m but was never built.

Since then her company MCO Projects Ltd  was paid €424,000 for work on the HSE’s national communications reform programme, €235,000 for a community healthcare organisation programme and more than €173,000 on the children’s hospital group programme.

It billed the health service for more than €621,000 for “general project management support” on the HSE’s Programme for Health Service Improvement.

It was also announced that Dr Tom Keane is being appointed chair of the Sláintecare Advisory Council.

Dr Keane is the Irish born doctor based in Canada who became Ireland’s ‘cancer tsar’ after he came here to reorganise cancer services into eight centres

Prior to that cancer services were dispersed across several hospitals with implications for quality and standards.

Ms Mahagy will  take up the position in September and a recruitment process for the Sláintecare Programme Office team will begin shortly.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:” The appointments to these key leadership roles signal the Government’s continuing commitment to improving and modernising our health services.  Laura and Tom bring a wealth of experience and expertise to these roles, having been instrumental leaders in many major change initiatives.

“The next decade will see a period of significant investment and reform in our health services. The National Development Plan will provide €10.9 billion investment in health providing for essential new capacity and redevelopment across the service. Improving governance is also an urgent priority. We are putting in place a new board for the HSE. Recruitment is ongoing for a new CEO of the HSE.

"These will be pivotal appointments in improving the management and performance of the health service. Finally, the implementation of a Sláintecare programme of reform will bring about a transformation of our health service. Our health care needs are changing, and this requires real change in how we deliver and experience care. I am confident that the appointments today will be instrumental in leading and managing change for the better, for the Irish health service.”

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