The former chairperson of the HSE West’s regional health forum is calling on Health Minister Leo Varadker to ensure a successor is appointed promptly to fill the position being vacated by the head of the West North West Hospitals Group.
It was announced towards the end of last week that Bill Maher, the chief executive of the organisation, is to leave his position. He is believed to be taking up a new role in the east of the country and will move on within the next few weeks.
Fine Gael councillor and former HSE West forum chair Padraig Conneely insists the appointment of a successor must be a priority.
“We don’t have a CEO for a major hospital group now and we don’t have a chairperson for it either since Noel Daly resigned. I am afraid things will slip back more now. There is somebody in an acting position as has been the case on other occasions in the past but what we need now is an appointment to be made promptly.
“I am asking the health minister Leo Varadker to take a hands-on approach to Galway and deal with this. I don’t think the HSE as a body can do it, it is not capable. Somebody must call it from the top. The minister has a good proven record. I know him for a number of years.”
The former mayor was often critical of Mr Maher’s style of leadership during the past year. He told him at a health forum meeting in June that his position as CEO was untenable over the allocation of a €20,000 contract to a private healthcare company of which Noel Daly, the chairperson of the hospital group, was a shareholder. The company carried out a survey of maternity services for the group. Mr Daly, who held the voluntary position for two years, resigned in June. He said he did not want his personal and professional reputation or the reputation of the group to be compromised in any way.
Cllr Conneely claimed Mr Maher had questions to answer about the procurement procedure and went on to lodge a complaint with the Minister for Health.
“Mr Maher’s departure comes at a time when the outpatient waiting list for UHG is 27,500 and the inpatient waiting list is 13,000.”
The city councillor warned that patient care is “slipping back to the bad old days” claiming that waiting lists are rising, overcrowding is still an issue at UHG and patients are anxious.
“Things are certainly not improving, unfortunately they are slipping back I feel. I have had a massive increase in the number of people contacting me about hospital issues. Calls to me are up by at least 25 per cent in the last number of months. These are genuine people.”