Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly TD has slammed the Health Services Executive’s lack of urgency in finding a replacement for the post of Director General of the HSE.
Donnelly has questioned why the post has not yet been advertised for recruitment: “It has been publicly known since March that the Director General of the HSE would be leaving in July.
“It seems that the Minister for Health has known since last June of his departure as that’s when approval was given for Tony O’Brien’s extracurricular activities and it was given on the basis that he would be leaving the HSE.”
Mr O’Brien was given permission take up the role on the board of US medical firm Evofem Biosciences while he continues to be at the helm of the Health Services Executive – a decision the government has come under fire for.
With just two months left until O’Brien leaves, there appears to be no public recruitment campaign underway. Donnelly argues that “even if the HSE starts a campaign today its highly unlikely there could be a successor in place ready for Mr O’Brien’s departure.”
Some Opposition politicians have called for Mr O’Brien to be removed as head of the HSE because of the recent cancer smear test controversy.
Yesterday the Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, said Mr O’Brien had decided to take a leave from all non-HSE activity to focus on helping inquiries into the cervical testing problems.
The controversy was brought to light following a court case by Vicky Phelan, who is terminally ill —Last week she was awarded €2.5 million over incorrect smear test results from 2011.
Facing questions at an Oireachtas committee, Mr O’Brien resisted pressure to leave his position saying he wished to stay until his stated departure date to help deal with the fallout from the controversy.
The Tánaiste also defended the actions of Health Minister Simon Harris and officials within the department.
Coveney said they were not aware of the issue of some women who were subsequently diagnosed with cervical cancer not being given information about reviews of their smear tests.