Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has raised a major conflict of interest issue concerning Minister for Health Dr James Reilly.
A report carried out by private consultants, D&F Health Partnership, known for its promotion of health service privatisation, has led to serious concerns for the future of maternity services at Letterkenny and Portiuncula hospitals.
The founder and 50% shareholder of D&F Health Partnership Noel Daly, was also appointed by the Minister Reilly to chair the West/North West Hospitals Group.
Speaking in the Dáil at Leaders Questions today, which was taken for the Taoiseach by Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Gerry Adams asked:
“Are you aware that in the Seanad last week the Minister for Health James Reilly stated that an issue had arisen concerning the commissioning of a report on maternity services in the West and North-West?
“The report was carried out by a private consultancy firm called the Health Partnership, also known as D&F Health Partnership, a company with a long record of promoting privatisation of health services.
“There are huge concerns in the West and North-West that this report, if implemented, could result in closure of maternity services at Letterkenny General Hospital and Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe.
“Is the Minister aware that the founder and 50% shareholder of the Health Partnership was appointed by Health Minister James Reilly as the Chairperson of the West/North West Hospitals Group, a major State public health body? Does the Minister agree that this is a huge conflict of interest?
“We have a major player in a private health consultancy firm that promotes privatisation of health services appointed as chair of a major public health body.
“The Minister for Health has admitted that the commissioning of the report by the Health Partnership was not in accordance with HSE National Financial Regulations and an internal investigation is under way.
“Will the Minister for Health himself be called fully to account for making this appointment and will the Chair of the West/North west Hospitals Group be asked to stand down?
“Minister these revelations are very serious. They expose once again the unsuitability of the Minister for Health and the Government’s gross mismanagement of the public health service. They follow the shameful removal of Discretionary Medical Cards from citizens who need them.
“Minister, do you agree that it is now clear that the report into the reconfiguration of maternity services in the West and North West cannot be relied upon as independent and fully accountable? Will the Government ask for it to be withdrawn immediately? Do you agree that the chairperson of the West and North West Hospitals Group should now review his position?
“Can you tell us the nature of the relationship between the Minister for Health and the Chairperson of the West and North-West Hospital Group? And finally Minister, does the Government retain confidence in the Minister for Health?”