Health service executive loses second CEO in six months

To lose one CEO might be considered unfortunate. To lose two is careless. To lose three... Mary Harney faces further embarassment as the second person to head the six-month-old Health Service Executive (HSE) has stepped down before taking up office. The deal broke down on the night of Wednesday 2 June, between Brendan Drumm and the HSE.


Brendan Drumm, currently head of pediatrics in UCD and a consultant in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlim was negotiating a package of over €300,000, with potential bonuses and a pension plan. Drumm said that negotiations to finalise his terms and conditions broke down becasue of the failure of the HSE to agree to fund his return to clinical work after the five year term in office. The HSE said that they could not enter long term financial deals.

Difficulties are said to have arisen over Drumm's insistence on putting in a layer of management in over those already appointed to the senior manement team of the Health Service Executive. There was concern that this new team, called the Strategic Apex Team would duplicate and add costs to an already hefty health service budget.

This team was to include Maureen Lynott, currently head of the National Drug Treatment Purchase Fund, John O'Brien, currently Chief Executive Officer of St James' Hospital, Tony Martin, head of Comhairle le Leas Óige, Sean Mc Guire, a primary care specialist in Carlow. Drumm also wanted to appoint Karl Anderson as his personal public relations man. Anderson, relatively unknown in the public relations world, is head of the Parents for a New Crumlin Hospital Association.

Drumm's arrival would have cost more than €1m in the first year and each year thereafter. This price does not include additional support staff.

Drumm is the third senior health service personnel to falter under Mary Harney as Minister of Health and Children. Michael Kelly was forced to go in controversial circumstances over the Travers report and Aidan Halligan, like Drumm, refused to take up the HSE CEO post. Halligan is said to have been offered a more substantial package than Drumm, but turned down the post due to "family circumstances". Differences between Halligan and Harney over management of the health services and the seperation of powers between the Department and health services are thought to be the real reason for Halligan standing down.

The Department was unhappy that within minutes of saying "no", Drumm announced he was going to hold a press conference to explain why. The press conference took place in his rooms at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children on the morning Thursday 2 June. While Drumm has a strong track record in children's health, he has little other expereince in health services management.

Sara burke