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Minister axes HSE chiefs

Health Minister Dr James Reilly today told the HSE board to quit.

The health chiefs who have presided over a shambolic health service, were asked for their resignations at a crunch meeting today.

The clearout comes after a string of HSE scandals including pregnant women being wrongly diagnosed as having had a miscarriage; tens of thousands of x-rays being left unread at one of the biggest hospitals in the country; and the cancer misdiagnosis scandals.

The Health Minister has been hugely critical of the HSE which has overseen a massive increase in the number of patients being left on trolleys and put on waiting lists.

While there was no legal obligation on them to go, it’s expected the board will voluntarily disband.

On his way into the meeting a spokesman for the minister said he intended to spend “a respectful amount of time with the board”.

During its tenure, the board was responsible for a €14bn budget as well as overseeing the implementation of the annual service plan as agreed with the Government.

It has been chaired by businessman Frank Dolphin since last summer.

The Health Minister has been quite critical of the Health Service Executive board and pledged to make changes to the membership of the board within a month, in line with a commitment in the Programme for Government.

He said that that under his direction, there would never again be scenes in hospital emergency departments where over 500 patients are waiting on trolleys for admission to a bed.

In recent weeks it's understood that Minister Reilly has sought advice from the Attorney General on how best to proceed.

He met the board at 12pm today at their headquarters on Adelaide Road. A large team of national managers will continue to operate the day to day management of the health system.

It's expected that there will be an interim system in place while a new board is appointed but the public will want to know what is in place as soon as possible.

Just a few weeks ago, a longstanding member of the board of the HSE offered his resignation to the minister.

Solicitor Eugene McCague wrote to Dr Reilly offering to step down but it was unclear whether his resignation has been accepted.

A spokesman previously outlined the minister's intentions to shake up the system. “Minister Reilly has indicated that he intends to make changes to the board of the HSE,” they said.

“Speaking directly to the board, he made clear that the changes will reflect the radical reform of the health service that is planned.

Brendan Drumm, who was the chief executive of the HSE for most of its existence, stepped down last July.

The Leitrim-born professor of paediatrics first took up the position in August 2005 and at last count received a €70,000 bonus on top of his €320,000- a-year salary.