Reasons unclear for Hiqa board resignations

Three board members of the State’s independent health watchdog group, Hiqa, have stepped down “to reduce the risk” of “real, potential or perceived conflicts of interest” in their work.

The Department of Health has confirmed Mo Flynn, Darragh O’Loughlin, and Linda O’Shea-Farren all left the Health Information Quality Authority board at the start of this month over the potential issue. The move means a quarter of the board has now departed.

Ms Flynn, chief executive of Our Lady’s Hospice, and Ms O’Shea-Farren, a solicitor, both departed after serving on the board since February last year. Mr O’Loughlin, a pharmacist, had been in place since September 2012.

A Hiqa spokesman said there is “nothing untoward” in the resignations, adding the moves do not mean any of the individuals involved cannot return to the board at a later date.

He declined to explain the exact reasons for the departures, other than to say it relates to “potential, real or perceived” conflicts of interest, adding that under the 2007 Health Act which established the group, such decisions are ultimately made by the minister for health.

A Department of Health spokesperson mirrored the stance, stating: “All three have resigned in order to reduce the risk of any real, potential or perceived conflicts of interest arising from their membership of the board of the authority.

“In thanking them for their commitment and contribution to the work of the authority as board members, the minister appreciates and understands the difficult decision that they have made which was taken in the best interests of the authority.”

It is unclear why the three board members resigned, and whether they were asked to leave the posts or if they made the decision voluntarily.

It is believed one of the potential reasons is to do with an upcoming Hiqa investigation into areas to which they are connected.

Hiqa has yet to clarify who will replace the three individuals on the high-level group.

Current members of the independent health watchdog include accountants, pharmaceutical specialists, solicitors, and doctors and nurses.

Since it was established in 2007, Hiqa has been at the forefront of uncovering major flaws in the State’s nursing home, social services, child services, hospital and maternity care systems.


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