The numbers behind Paul Reid's 'whirlwind' tenure as HSE boss

The numbers behind Paul Reid's 'whirlwind' tenure as HSE boss

Covid scuppered Paul Reid's efforts to tackle the health service's perennial problems, waiting lists and the trolley crisis. File photo: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland

A whirlwind. That would probably be the best way to describe Paul Reid’s tenure as HSE chief executive.

The tornado was not of his making, that is certain, but like all such storms, it has left a lot of rebuilding to be done in its wake.

Since taking over from his predecessor Tony O’Brien in May of 2019 — on a bumped-up primary salary of about €300,000, Mr O’Brien having been paid roughly €200,000 per annum — in the wake of the latter’s resignation amid the Cervical Check scandal, Mr Reid was barely half a year into the job before having to deal with the crisis to end all crises, Covid-19.

He will exit in December on a total remuneration package of about €420,000, comprised of €367,000 in salary and just under €50,000 in pension contributions. Yet despite being one of the country’s best-paid public servants, Mr Reid will not be finishing out his five-year contract — he is set to exit the system with 18 months to run on his deal.

From that point of view, it is not perhaps entirely fair to judge his tenure on concrete improvements made to the traditional Irish health service bugbears of waiting lists, trolley numbers etc, Covid saw to it that material change in those departments was next to impossible.

Nevertheless, things are in a worse place than they were, and Slaintecare remains at an impasse. And with Mr Reid gone, the entire fate of the health system’s overhaul would now appear to fall on the shoulders of controversial Department of Health supremo Robert Watt.

One thing we know for certain is that the department’s budget has ballooned since pre-Covid – Ireland’s healthcare spending (€21 billion in 2022 — the figure was €16.2 billion in 2018) dwarfs that of other western nations like France in terms of expenditure per capita.

Paul Reid, the stats – 2019-2022:

  • National Waiting Lists: January 2019 – 516,000; May 2022 – 852,000 
  • Numbers on Trolleys: June 2019 – 385; June 2022 – 525 
  • HSE CEO Salary: May 2019 - €200,000; June 2022 - €420,000 
  • Nursing Starting Salary: May 2019 - €29,000; June 2022 - €31,000 
  • Hospital Consultant Salary: May 2019 - €135,000; June 2022 - €210,000 
  • Healthcare Budget: 2019 - €16.1 billion; 2022 - €21 billion

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