Minister for Health shows extremely poor judgment in allowing HSE head to take up paid board role

May 2, 2018

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has accused the Minister for Health Simon Harris of showing extremely poor judgment in allowing serving HSE Director General Tony O’Brien to take up a remunerated position on the board of a US medical supplies company.

Deputy Shortall said:

“It is entirely inappropriate that the head of the HSE has been allowed to take up a boardroom position with Evofem Biosciences female contraceptive manufacturer while holding down his important day job as a public servant.

“These two roles are simply incompatible, quite apart from the fact that Mr O’Brien will reportedly receive fees totaling some €54,000 as well as substantial share options for his position on the board of the San Diego based company.

“As the most senior publicly paid official at the helm of the HSE, Mr O’Brien clearly would have enough on his plate even if we weren’t in the midst of a very serious crisis over how Cervical Check has handled smear test audits for hundreds of women. The fact that the Minister for Health does not appear to have seen any inherent conflict in Mr O’Brien taking up such a role shows a very serious lack of judgment on his behalf.

“It’s also a major red flag that the chair of the board of Evofem Biosciences is Mr Thomas Lynch, who is also the chair of the Mater Hospital and the Ireland East Hospital Group. Mr O’Brien’s management role in the HSE means he has oversight of voluntary hospitals.

“Mr Lynch serves on the boards of several big pharma companies, some of which would have dealings with the HSE. This appointment smacks of golden circles in our health system and associated business interests and should have been ruled out by the Minister from the get go.”

ENDS

2 May 2018