MINISTER for Health Dr James Reilly has appointed Limerick native Professor Niall O’Higgins to chair the newly-established Mid-Western Hospitals Group.
Under reforms Minister Reilly has embarked upon, all acute hospitals in the region are to be run by a single management structure with a single budget. Creating hospital groups now is a precursor to the eventual establishment of autonomous trusts to run public hospitals as Dr Reilly sets about implementing his pre-election promise to dismantle the HSE.
Minister Reilly aims to devolve decision-making in the health service and give more autonomy to managers and senior clinicians in regional hospital groups. It is hoped the reforms will also bring about greater accountability for hospital managers consistent with HIQA’s recent report on governance at Tallaght Hospital.
Minister Reilly last December announced that Ballyneety woman Anne Doherty would take up the position of chief executive of the Mid-Western Hospitals Group. This has now been followed up with the appointment of Prof O’Higgins as chair.
A former student at Crescent College, Prof O’Higgins is one of Ireland’s most distinguished surgeons and a former president of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He was a central figure in developing breast cancer services nationally and in the establishment of the national screening programme BreastCheck.
Noel Daly, a former CEO of An Bord Altranais, is to chair the hospitals group in Galway while Minister Reilly has also appointed Prof John Higgins to chair another board to help the Department set up hospital groups around the country.
Commenting on the appointments, Dr Reilly said: “the leadership skills, knowledge and experience these three gentlemen bring to these important roles will be invaluable. I wish them well in these important roles and assure them of my support”.
“They will be supported and overseen in their endeavours by the special delivery unit in my department,” said the minister.