Healthy interest in HSE’s top post

DESPITE outgoing chief executive of the HSE Brendan Drumm openly admitting to struggling with the high profile-nature of the job, 34 people have applied to take up his €320,000-a-year basic salary post.

The Irish Medical Times has reported that 30 external candidates have applied, with a further four coming from within the Irish health service.

While the HSE has declined to confirm the identities of the candidates, it is understood at least one of these Irish-based contenders is among Prof Drumm’s “kitchen cabinet” of national directors.

Interviews are due to begin within a fortnight, with the new chief executive starting in June.

While no candidate has publicly confirmed their interest, Health Minister, Mary Harney has previously indicated her preference for cancer specialist Professor Tom Keane.

A survey of GPs here has also highlighted support for the Canadian.

However, other candidates who have been recommended by sections of the health service include Donegal-born businessman Gerry Robinson and former director of the National Hospitals Office (NHO) Pat McLoughlin.

The HSE’s first choice for the post in 2005, the NHS-based Prof Aidan Halligan, and consultant oncologist Prof John Crown have been mooted as potential candidates.

When Prof Drumm was appointed in 2005 he received a basic salary of €320,000, with the potential for a 25% annual bonus. He was also given a car allowance and a pension provision equalling 25% of basic pay.

The HSE confirmed last month his successor’s salary will be between 15%-25% less, a figure in line with recommendations from the Review Body on Higher Remunerations in the Public Sector. The new chief will also be barred from performance-related bonuses, which last year caused outrage when it emerged Prof Drumm received €70,000 for his work in 2007.

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