HSE chief executive Paul Reid has said the biggest regret of his career with the health service has been the deaths of staff from Covid-19.
“They paid the ultimate price with their lives” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.
Mr Reid also denied that his decision to resign had anything to do with his relationship with the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.
On the issue of proposed changes to Navan Hospital, Mr Reid said he would not like for himself or a member of his family to be taken to Navan emergency department today.
Mr Reid admitted that he was frustrated about the decision to pause the plan for Navan Hospital. “I wanted this to happen (the changes). There is a very real risk to the safety of patients.”
The board (HSE) had a role to act on risks, but it also had to take cognisance of the Minister’s views. While he understood the position of politicians, the HSE had a responsibility “to see this through” in a way that was best for patients, he siad.
“I value democracy, but equally I value my role and the role of the board and decisions made on the basis of safety.”
When asked if he thought the Minister for Health respected him, Mr Reid said yes, he did and that they continued to work together very professionally. They were both committed to their roles and respected each other. Mr Reid said he had enjoyed a professional relationship with all of the Ministers and politicians with whom he had worked in the past.
Mr Reid repeated his commitment to Sláintecare and said that the pandemic had been an opportunity to accelerate “a lot of reform.”
“I’m really proud of how staff worked at pace during Covid and implemented changes,” he said.
The priority was saving lives.
However, the deaths that occurred in nursing homes “breaks my heart” he said. Afterwards the question was what could have been done differently. Congregated settings were not the place to be during a pandemic.
Mr Reid said he looked back with “tormented learning”.
The most emotional thing that had happened in his career was the deaths of staff during Covid-19 who paid the ultimate price. He had spoken with their families who said they all wanted to go to work. “That is one thing that I wished never happened.”
Mr Reid said he has no immediate plans when he finishes work with the HSE. “For the first time in my career I don’t know what’s next.” The first thing he is going to do is visit his three-year-old granddaughter in Texas. “After that we will see.”