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Thursday 14 December 2017

HSE was Trojan horse for government, claims Drumm

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

The HSE had to operate as a "Trojan horse" and allow the last two governments to blame it for politically unpopular change, says former chief executive Brendan Drumm.

Professor Drumm, whose new book 'The Challenge of Change' is about his five-year tenure at the helm of the HSE, said cabinets were under pressure to slow down changes such as the reorganisation of hospitals, which led to the closure of some 24-hour A&E departments.

Prof Drumm, who reveals little or no behind-the-scenes details in his first-hand account, said: "Governments do not intentionally stall change programmes, but they do want them to advance at a pace that minimises opposition in the community.

"Unfortunately, driving public service transformation at a slow pace is probably what dooms most transformation programmes."

Prof Drumm steers clear of some of the most public controversies of his time from 2005-2010, including his high salary, bonuses, over-paid managers and bloated administrative staff numbers.

However, he hints at tensions with the HSE board over his secondment and highly-paid kitchen cabinet of advisers.

He also disclosed he was opposed to the original concept of co-located hospitals in which private facilities were built next to public hospitals.

If consultants had no limit on their practice in the private hospitals they were in danger of not treating enough patients in the public facilities, opting for lucrative private work next door.


He documented his concerns to Health Minister Mary Harney and the doctors had their private practice workload confined to 20pc. The co-located hospital plan has since been scrapped.

Prof Drumm praises the new contract for consultants worked out in 2008 and makes no mention of the flaws which have been exposed since, including the failure of several senior medics to limit their lucrative level of private practice to 20pc.

In his book Prof Drumm does not refer to any of the tragic cases of cancer misdiagnosis which occurred during his term as chief executive.

Irish Independent

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