HSE boss should be attending health forum meetings, says chairman

The absence at HSE West meetings of the newly appointed chief executive officer with responsibility over Mayo, Galway, and Roscommon hospitals was heavily criticised at the forum’s most recent meeting on Tuesday last.

Addressing the forum at Merlin Park Hospital, chairman, Fine Gael councillor Padraig Conneely, stated: “Management at this meeting seems a bit sparse. Vital cogs in the wheel are missing and it’s getting a bit ‘iffy’ as to responsibility.

“I am told now that the new CEO, Mr Bill Maher, won’t be attending this meeting. I have some issues for him. He was appointed chief executive over these areas on January 9 last but since then, despite six or seven attempts on my part, he has failed to meet me.

“University Hospital Galway is not only an issue for Galway but also Mayo and Roscommon. It is the main acute hospital in the western region that all counties are feeding in to. I feel it is unacceptable and insulting to me in my role as chairman that he has failed to meet me; I am a very straight talker and am not saying this behind his back.

“He is a highly paid public sector employee in a senior position yet he is not available to meet with me. He should be here today - maybe even to say he is not going to come, if that is his plan, or that he sees himself as removed or above us. UHG is a major player and since he arrived here I don’t see much improvement, with 40 or 50 trolleys still in the corridors.”

Cllr Michael Finnerty stated that Mr Maher did meet with public representatives in Galway the previous day “for a number of minutes”. Roscommon councillor Tony Ward said the whole purpose of the forum was as a place to ask questions on behalf of constituents by councillors who were elected to raise their concerns.

“But what we find is that Mr Maher doesn’t see fit to come in here. He should be present at any meeting, and answering questions. I am very disappointed. He is CEO of Roscommon, Mayo and Galway but he doesn’t even see fit to come in and answer the forum. What’s the point in us coming here in our own busy schedule when the main man isn’t here?”

HSE West manager John Hennessy said the new CEO was fully aware of his accountabilities to the public and intended to deliver on those.

Devolved government structures in the hospital process were ongoing; the CEO wanted to come in to the meeting on a well informed basis. “Bill is not here because two national directors are in town today and he is meeting with both of those. He is certainly not avoiding anything,” Mr Hennessy said.

Tony Canavan, HSE West added: “I think it is dangerous to throw out emergency figures about A&E and contend there has been no case since January of trolleys of 50 overnight.”

Cllr Catherine Connolly said it was vital to bring Mr Maher in to the forum as it was “the only one where the press are and we get to ask questions”.

Cllr Conneely proposed Mr Maher be asked to come to the next meeting; this was seconded by chairman Cllr Conneely and passed by members.

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