Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has expressed his disappointment at the manner in which the Health Minister has appointed the new Director General of the HSE. Deputy Kelleher said such a crucial role should have been subject to open competition.
“There is no question that Tony O’Brien is an extremely well qualified and capable health professional. I wish him every success in this new and challenging role,” said Deputy Kelleher.
“However the manner in which this appointment was made is typical of the increasingly arrogant approach of the Health Minister James Reilly. The health service is in crisis, with an ever-increasing deficit. In order to restore confidence in the service, the new boss should have been appointed through an independent and transparent process. The Oireachtas Health Committee would have been the perfect body to oversee the appointment.
“Instead, Minister Reilly chose to pick an insider behind closed doors without absolutely no transparency in the process. Was there even an interview for the role? The Minister is already stacking the Special Delivery Unit with his own political appointments. He now looks set to hand-pick the entire new Health Service Directorate. It will effectively be his personal Health-Cabinet with no accountability to the Dáil.
“Only this week at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte called for open competition in senior appointments. Just a day later, his colleague promoted an insider to one of the most important and senior roles in the public service. This is typical of the gap between this Government’s rhetoric and the reality.
“Despite the Minister’s team of advisors costing more than a million euro, he’s failing to provide any leadership in the health service. We’re now facing severe cuts to frontline services to tackle the projected €500m deficit due to his failure.
Deputy Kelleher also called on the Minister to clarify if his Labour colleagues were consulted in advance of the appointment.
“Given the increasingly dysfunctional relationship between the three health ministers, we must also ask whether Ministers Shortall and Lynch were even asked for their opinion about this appointment and whether they expressed any concerns about the process.”