Minister for Health Simon Harris has received Government approval to draft a Bill to establish an independent Board for the HSE.
Speaking in the wake of the cervical cancer screening misdiagnosis, the Minister said these events had once again made it clear that there was an urgent need to restore public confidence in the HSE through a series of actions to strengthen the management, governance and accountability of the organisation. A key component of this was the establishment of a Board for the HSE.
“The current HSE structure does not provide an adequate governance arrangement for the HSE, as I outlined to the Sláintecare committee, and as has been reflected in the report.
“The establishment of the HSE Board should be considered as part of a broader package of recommendations in the Sláintecare report to revise health structures. It is my intention to seek Government approval as part of my response to the Sláintecare report to reconfigure the health service to include a more strategic ’national centre’ carrying out national level functions, and with new regional bodies with responsibility for the delivery of integrated health and social care services.
“It is my firm view that a Board governance structure, with strong competencies across key areas, will contribute to strengthening the oversight and performance of the HSE pending its further reorganisation.
“Under the new legislation the Board will be accountable to the Minister for the performance of its functions and it will be responsible for the appointment of a CEO. The CEO will be responsible to the Board and the Board will take responsibility for assessing the CEO’s performance.
The plans are for a nine person non-executive board including the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson. The Board will have authority to perform the HSE’s functions and will be accountable to the Minister for the performances of its functions.
The HSE will have a CEO who will be responsible to the Board for the performance of his or her functions.
Other than in the case of the first CEO, the appointment of the CEO will be a matter for the Board. The General Scheme provides that the first CEO will be the person holding the position of Director General immediately before the Board is established.
The Director General position is vacant at present and the legislative provisions on appointing the first CEO will be kept under review to take account of progress in filling this vacancy. The Minister will bring forward other provisions for the appointment of the first CEO for consideration by the Oireachtas in the event that the next Director General has not been appointed before the legislation is likely to be passed.
The Minister has not indicated whether or not the new Board will hold its meetings in public.