Fianna Fáil’s Joe Malone, a member of Kilkenny County Council, said every time he goes to a forum meeting, he asks himself: “Why am I here?”
He said: “We need to have more accountability. I am coming to meetings here every month and I am getting nothing.”
Fine Gael’s Mary Hourigan, a member of Tipperary County Council, said she has “no desire” to attend the meetings anymore.
“Nobody wants to talk to us,” she said.
When she tried to contact the HSE via email or telephone on behalf of the people she was supposed to be representing, there were no answers forthcoming.
Ger Reaney, HSE chief officer for Cork and Kerry Community Healthcare, said: “I would really hope that doesn’t apply to my area of responsibility.”
He said he would “be disappointed if you think healthcare staff are in some way not accountable”.
Sinn Féin’s Damian Quigg of Kerry County Council said it is “coming to the point where I will remove myself completely from this forum”.
Independent Tom Wood of Tipperary County Council said the health forums are “a waste of time”.
“Everything wasn’t rosy in the previous system, but it was far better than what I’ve experienced as a member of this forum in the past three-and-a-half years,” he said.
The councillors were speaking to a motion from Breda Gardner, an Independent member of Kilkenny County Council, proposing that they write to Health Minister Simon Harris asking him to reintroduce boards of management to each hospital in the southeast “to ensure the best decisions are made at local level with local cross-representation from patients, nurses, doctors, community representatives, HSE, and public representatives”.
Ms Gardner said boards of management “worked very well for our schools and they used to work well for hospitals”. She added: “It is time we put the responsibility for running our hospitals back into the hands of the people who know those hospitals the best: Local staff and public figures.”
The motion was passed unanimously.
Afterwards, Ms Gardner, Mr Quigg, and Mr Malone said they were planning a march on the Dáil to highlight frustration at the lack of answers and difficulties accessing information about the health service, despite being on the health forum.