HSE senior managers upset over comments from Limerick politicians

Former HSE Director General Paul Reid.

SENIOR Health Service Executive (HSE) managers were upset after being subjected to “inappropriate and highly personalised” comments at a meeting with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Oireachtas members from Limerick.

The meeting on June 28 was arranged by the Department of Health to discuss the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) with the then HSE Director General Paul Reid and the then Chief Operating Officer Damien McCallion.

However Mr McCallion was on leave and as Mr Reid was otherwise engaged, he sent a delegation of senior managers to attend the meeting.

In a letter to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly on June 29, Mr Reid said it had been formally raised with him that the meeting on the previous day had caused concern among the HSE managers who were in attendance.

He complained that they were subjected to “inappropriate and highly personalised” comments and that “strong and uninhibited” language was directed at them.

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The former HSE chief also questioned whether health officials should be required to attend briefings with TDs from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael alone.

In correspondence obtained by The Irish Times under Freedom of Information legislation, Mr Reid claimed the HSE managers gave a brief update on waiting lists and were then asked to go to a meeting with “Fine Gael parliamentary representatives”

“This caused quite a surprise to them but they proceeded to the meeting room. When they got to the room there were a total of nine Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Oireachtas members from Limerick in attendance.

“The concerns raised to me was that there was strong and uninhibited language raised at the meeting addressed to the HSE team,” Mr Reid’s letter continued.

He went on to express concern that senior public officials were being requested to attend a meeting, “the purpose of which turned out to be completely different than that set out in the original correspondence”.

“Whilst the HSE team are strong individuals and well experienced in meeting with Oireachtas members, it does seem that some of the comments made in the meeting were inappropriate and highly personalised.”

Mr Reid had earlier raised his concerns about the meeting with Department of Health secretary general Robert Watt who said he knew nothing about the meeting but undertook to respond.

“Practice for some time is that officials should not be asked to attend meetings of TDs of Government parties who are not members of the Government,” he told Mr Reid.