Sunday 18 March 2018

Government to appoint 'Health Tsar' to overhaul HSE

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Julien Behal
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Julien Behal
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

The Government is planning to hire a new 'Health Tsar' to oversee major reforms of the health system and the HSE. The new senior executive will be based in the Department of Health and will answer to Health Minister Simon Harris.

A senior Government source yesterday said the new position would not undermine the position of Health Service Executive director general Tony O'Brien but confirmed the new executive would have the power to recommend sweeping changes to the HSE.

Mr O'Brien recently attacked politicians for not showing the courage to make the necessary decisions to improve the health system.

The new 'Health Tsar's' main focus will be implementing the proposals set out in the all-party Committee on the Future of Healthcare's Slaintecare's report.

The report made a number of significant recommendations to overhaul the health service which would require an additional €3bn investment and also see hospital and GP charges almost abolished. The final report was criticised by Government TDs as it was not costed by the Department of Finance.

However, at the last Cabinet meeting, Mr Harris got approval to set up a new implementation office and hire a 'lead executive' to introduce some of the report's recommendations. It is understood the Government is hoping to hire a health executive with international experience.

The executive will be specifically tasked with examining the costs of the proposal set out in the committee's report.

The minister's spokeswoman said: "Minister for Health Simon Harris has been very clear that making tangible and sustainable improvements in our health service is a key priority for this Government."

The Slaintecare report recommended removing all private care from public hospitals and implementing measures the committee claimed would reduce in-patient waiting times to 12 weeks and 10 weeks for out-patients.

Sunday Independent

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