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Professor Breda Smyth appointed new chief medical officer at the Department of Health

Professor Smyth has been the interim chief medical officer since July, after Dr Tony Holohan stood down from the role.

Professor Breda Smyth (file photo).
Professor Breda Smyth (file photo).
Image: Sam Boal

PROFESSOR BREDA SMYTH has been appointed as the new chief medical officer (CMO) at the Department of Health.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced that Prof Smyth will take up the role this afternoon. 

Her appointment follows an open competition that took place through the Top-Level Appointment Commission (TLAC), the public body recommend candidates to Ministers and Government for the most senior positions in the Civil Service.

Prof Smyth has been the interim chief medical officer since July, after Dr Tony Holohan stood down from the role.

She has specialised in public health for the last 16 years and was formerly Professor for Public Health Medicine in NUI Galway and Consultant in Public Health in HSE West. 

She also contributed significantly to Ireland’s Covid-19 response as a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), the Rapid Testing Expert Advisory Group as well as a founding member of the Covid-19 – Irish Epidemiology Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG).

She joins the department on a three year secondment from her position with the HSE, on the terms and conditions advertised for the role. The job comes with an €187,578 annual salary as it falls into the Civil Service Deputy Secretary grade.

In a statement, Prof Smyth said her appointment was “a very proud day for me and my family”.

“I am delighted to accept this role and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Department of Health, and across our health and social care service to promote and protect public health and the health and wellbeing of the population of Ireland,” she said.

“The Chief Medical Officer has a primary role in implementing cross-government initiatives like Healthy Ireland and Sláintecare and I am excited by the challenge ahead.

I am keen to use my term as Chief Medical Officer to support greater engagement with marginalised groups in society and address inequities in health by supporting the Department’s work in improving the affordability and quality of our health service.

Minister Donnelly said Prof Smyth’s “considerable experience, excellent leadership ability and extensive public health skillset” will be a “valuable asset” to the department.

“The pandemic has placed a renewed spotlight on the importance of public health in our health and social care services and I very much look forward to working with Breda as we build on this important work and continue to facilitate increased access to the health service, as well as the quality of that service,” he said.

Dr Holohan congratulated his successor on Twitter, noting that she is the first woman to to hold the post.

“To hold the post is a great honour and privilege. I wish you success and happiness in the role. Enjoy the achievement with your family and friends,” he said.

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About the author:

Jane Moore

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