Former HSE Director General Tony O'Brien has accused Health Minister Simon Harris of behaving like a "frightened little boy" during the Cervical Check scandal.
Mr O'Brien, who stepped down from the role earlier this year, has also admitted the way the HSE handled the screening controversy was a "trainwreck".
He has given a wide-ranging interview to the Sunday Business Post, warning it is "entirely possible" the number of patients on hospital trolleys this winter will hit 1,000.
Mr O'Brien also criticised the cut to new entrant consultant's pay.
Dr Donal O'Hanlon, President of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, says public hospitals are in a state of crisis.
"Mr O'Brien I think confirmed that the 30% cut to new entrant consultant pay was the worst thing that happened and was non-strategic," he said.
"We agree fully with this assessment.
"It's led to a situation where a fifth of consultant posts are being filled on a non-permanent basis.
"Young, well-trained consultants are not returning from abroad due to this salary discrimination."