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Pressure on Reilly after officials call his HSE reforms 'unworkable'

In briefing documents prepared for Leo Varadkar, the new health minister is told that “a more coherent approach” is needed.

James Reilly
James Reilly
Image: Photocall Ireland

MINISTER FOR CHILDREN and Youth Affairs James Reilly is coming under renewed pressure from political opponents today after a report prepared by officials at the Department of Health called his planned abolition of the HSE “unworkable”.

The former health minister, who was replaced by Leo Varadkar in this summer’s reshuffle, published plans in November of 2012 to dissolve the HSE and replace it with a new structure of purchasers and providers.

In briefing material prepared for Varadkar after he took over from Reilly, officials warn that if Government policy documents setting out how to do this were implemented in full…

“…it would lead to a wide range of new statutory organisations.

It is the Department’s view that this would be an unworkable construct. The Department is therefore of the view that a more coherent approach to this phase of the reform programme is required.

The briefing documents were published yesterday on the Department of Health’s website:


At the start of last month, Varadkar revealed he would be parking plans to dissolve the HSE for the timebeing. He also said that Reilly’s 2019 deadline for the introduction of universal insurance was “too ambitious”.

In a statement, Fianna Fáil’s health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said that the briefing document showed that Reilly’s initial plan “made no sense, was unworkable and has now collapsed”.

“In the three and half years it took to demonstrate that fact, tens of thousands of families have had to go through the misery of the medical card cull, hospital chiefs have had to go public to warn about the effect Government policy was having on patient safety and morale within the health service has taken a battering.”

A spokesperson for Minister Varadkar said:

“Based on briefings the Minister received on his appointment, and based on his own considerations, he took a view on a number of matters. He announced that his priority is to bring stability to the service and to get a reasonable Budget in place. It was not the appropriate time to proceed with the dissolution of the HSE, as more work needs to be done in the interim on the new structures.

“However, when that work is concluded, that is still the intention.”

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