Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD today called on the Minister for Health to appoint a new head of the HSE on an interim basis – and to only fill the post permanently once key accountability reforms are carried out.

Deputy Shortall said:

“At the heart of the Cervical Check crisis is a lack of oversight, governance and accountability within the HSE and throughout our entire health system, from the Minister for Health down.

“The lack of legal accountability structures has allowed a culture of concealment and legal defensiveness to prevail in our health system. That has clearly worked against the best interests of patients, including the thousands of women who are now affected by the shambolic and appalling way that Cervical Check audits were carried out.

“In the absence of meaningful legal reforms, simply appointing a new chief executive to head up the HSE once Tony O’Brien steps down in the coming weeks will be an entirely futile gesture.

“For this reason, I am urging the Minister for Health Simon Harris to appoint an interim chief executive and to at the same time prioritise key accountability reforms recommended in the Sláintecare health report published a year ago by a cross-party Oireachtas committee which I chaired.”

The Dublin North-West TD added:

“There are three key pieces of accountability legislation that need to be expedited. Firstly, we need a law to reinstate an independent HSE board of governance for oversight of the work of a new chief executive. The current situation where the HSE director general and senior managers are accountable only to themselves is risible

“Secondly, we need a law to ensure that the Minister for Health is legally accountable for the provision of healthcare to the population. The third piece of legislation that is badly needed would introduce mandatory national standards in clinical governance and national and local accountability structures right down to community and hospital levels.

“This would ensure legal accountability for clinical governance would apply to all boards, senior management and clinicians throughout the health service. It is only by introducing such accountability legislation that the current culture within the health service will change.”

ENDS

8 May 2018