The director general of the HSE, Tony O'Brien, has announced that he will not be seeking an extension to his existing six-year contract, and will finish in his position at the end of the summer.
Mr O'Brien said that he made the decision last summer and had discussed it with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, at that time. However, he only officially confirmed his decision to the Minister last week.
He said he was announcing his decision now to allow the recruitment process for a new director general to begin. In a video address to HSE staff, he said that it had been a ‘unique privilege' to lead the health service ‘through its most challenging period'.
He insisted that while there are many ongoing issues within the health system, particularly around overcrowding in Emergency Departments, ‘there has been considerable progress in important areas'. However he noted that for a long time, he has publicly argued that the current health system is ‘the wrong shape and size' to allow workers to meet the growing needs of the population.
Responding to the announcement, Minister Harris thanked Mr O'Brien for his leadership over the last six years ‘and his strong commitment to health reform'.
"The position of director general of the HSE is a vital one, and this lead-in time will allow the recruitment process to now commence, so that it can be filled in a timely manner," he added.