John Halligan: Abolish ‘totally toxic’ HSE

Junior minister John Halligan has called for the “toxic” HSE to be broken up and for an independent review to recommend a new authority.

As the cervical cancer screening scandal enters another week, the Independent Alliance TD said the HSE cannot be reformed and the public has lost confidence in its management.

Nonetheless, the junior business minister appealed to voters not to vote No in this week’s abortion referendum to punish the Government over the controversy.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, the Waterford TD set out why he thinks it is time for the 12-year-old HSE to be abolished.

“The HSE is totally toxic,” he said. “We have to find some way of abolishing the HSE and start from the beginning. It probably won’t be this Government. We should bring in outside experts.

“People are so furious. It has gone too far. The HSE cannot be reformed in its present mindset. Somebody has to stand up and abolish it. It could take months or a year.”

Mr Halligan said the cancer scandal, where 18 women died before knowing of their false negative results, was “huge on the doorsteps”. An opinion poll last week found satisfaction among women with the Government has fallen by a third to 29%.

Mr Halligan said: “Forcing people into courts rather than settlements is appalling. Do people have faith in the HSE? It would probably fail in any poll.

“It is only a matter of time something else happens with the HSE.

“There are thousands of managers. Where would you get compliance? Organise return investment in services.”

Meanwhile, Government figures have moved to distanced themselves from a businessman with links to Fine Gael proposing to cancer victim Emma Mhic Mhathúna that she might give the Government “positive praise” if her court case against the State is fast-tracked.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and junior minister and Kerry TD Brendan Griffin said they had no role in the draft letter or suggestions sent to the terminally ill mother of five.

Mr Griffin said: “We had no hand, act, or part in it.”

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