Parting shot fired at HSE boss

Maurice Power

A former chairman of the HSE West Regional Health Forum has claimed the boss of the Saolta hospital group treated the body with contempt for the past five years.

Fine Gael Councillor Padraig Conneely used his final meeting sitting on the forum before his retirement from local politics to liken the hospital group – which runs the three Galway public hospitals – to a ship aground on rocks.

He told a meeting this week that the CEO of Saolta University Health Care Group, Maurice Power, had not been seen ‘for weeks and weeks’ since he launched a High Court action in a bid to prevent the HSE from removing him from his role.

“The man is being paid by you and me €160,000…no other chair can be appointed to head up an organisation with 10,000 staff and a budget of €800 million,” he said.

He claimed that Mr Power had only attended the forum once in five years whereas previous CEOs had attended every meeting. He had repeatedly written to the management team asking Mr Power to attend but had been ignored.

“This man has treated this forum with contempt in the last five years. It’s not good enough for the public interest.”

Chief Operating Officer for Saolta said every meeting of the regional health forum had been attended by a senior executive who answered questions from elected representatives.

Lawyers for Mr Power who lives in Moycullen, are seeking an injunction preventing the HSE from terminating his employment as the group’s CEO and an order that nobody can be appointed to the position pending the full outcome of the case.

The HSE argued that Mr Power does not have a contract of indefinite duration for the position of the group’s CEO, as he has claimed.

It claims his employment has not been terminated and that he will return to the role of Chief Financial Officer which he previously held before taking up the reins as interim CEO.

When the HSE began a process of recruiting a CEO for the group, Mr Power applied for the job. He was called to a preliminary interview but was not invited to the second round of interviews.

He has appealed the decision not to include him in the second round and has lodged a claim with the Workplace Relations Commission.