Health Service Executive

The Health Service Executive (HSE) (Irish: Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte) is the publicly funded healthcare system in the Republic of Ireland, responsible for the provision of health and personal social services. It came into operation on 1 January 2005.

Health Service Executive
Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte
Health Service Executive logo.svg
Publicly funded health service overview
Formed1 January 2005
Preceding Publicly funded health service
HeadquartersDr Steevens' Hospital, Dublin 8, Ireland
Annual budget€16.05 billion
Publicly funded health service executives
Parent departmentDepartment of Health

The current Director-General is Paul Reid.


The Executive was established by the Health Act 2004 and came into official operation on 1 January 2005. It replaced the ten regional Health Boards, the Eastern Regional Health Authority and a number of other different agencies and organisations. The Minister for Health retained overall responsibility for the Executive in Government.[2] The HSE adopted a regional structure (HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster, HSE Dublin North East, HSE South and HSE West).[2]

A new grouping of hospitals was announced by the Irish Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly TD in May 2013, as part of a restructure of Irish public hospitals and a goal of delivering better patient care:[3][4]

A new arrangement of 90 primary care networks was announced in October 2014.[5]

On 4 April 2022, it was announced that the Chief Operations Officer of the HSE - Anne O'Connor - would be leaving the organisation in the summer to take up a new role as Managing Director of VHI Health and Wellbeing.[6] On 27 June 2022, it was announced that the current Director General of the HSE - Paul Reid - would be stepping down from his role to 'spend more time with family'.[7]

Historic issuesEdit

The HSE is frequently portrayed by the Irish media as an inefficient, top-heavy and excessively bureaucratic organisation. The Irish health system has been involved in a number of serious health scandals, for example relating to cancer misdiagnoses in 2008.[8][9] The HSE has also been the subject of criticism for cutbacks, service cancellations etc., but has indicated that it is making good progress in saving costs and achieving its required 'break-even' budget position for 2010.[10]

In the same month, the Irish Medical Organisation stated that patients awaiting a HSE medical card were waiting up to six months to receive their card, and that their health was being put at risk as they could not afford medicines that they would have otherwise obtained had they received their card.[11] The HSE has since announced a new online system for medical card applications that will reduce turnaround time for routine applications to 15 days.[12]

In May 2011, key forensic evidence in up to 25 sexual-assault cases may be challenged in court because of a major administrative blunder by the HSE. The victims – some as young as 14 – were told by Gardaí about the incident, in which a nurse who carried out their forensic tests was unregistered. This could lead to the evidence being challenged.[13]

In May 2018, in the midst of the CervicalCheck misdiagnoses controversy, Tony O'Brien announced his resignation as director-general of the HSE with effect from close of business on 11 May.[14][15]

An Ombudsman report in October 2020 found that children with suspected disabilities are encountering delays of many years in having their needs properly assessed. The report said that this is 'a serious and ongoing violation of their rights'.[16]

2021 cyberattackEdit

On 14 May 2021, the HSE suffered a major ransomware cyberattack which caused all of its IT systems nationwide to be shut down.[17][18][19][20] It was the most significant cybercrime attack on an Irish state agency and the largest known attack against a health service computer system.[21][22]

The ransomware cyber attack, which occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, had a significant impact on hospital appointments across the country, with many appointments cancelled including all outpatient and radiology services.[23]

A report into the attack showed that the HSE used unsecured systems and the hackers got in 8 weeks earlier than thought.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Department of Public Expenditure & Reform - Databank - Public Service Numbers". Department of Public Expenditure & Reform. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Health Service in Ireland". Irish Health. 27 September 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Minister Announces Hospital Groups and Publishes The Framework for Smaller Hospitals". Department of Health. Department of Health (Ireland). 15 May 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Six hospital groups 'most fundamental reform in decades'". Irish Medical Times. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  5. ^ "HSE unveils new structure for local services". Irish Times. 8 October 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  6. ^ "O'Connor to leave HSE role for VHI this summer". RTÉ News. 4 April 2022. Retrieved 8 April 2022.
  7. ^ "HSE chief executive Paul Reid stepping down". 27 June 2022. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "Family demands HSE apology over misdiagnosis". The Irish Times. 22 September 2008.
  9. ^ "Up to seven families to be contacted by HSE". RTÉ.ie. 1 April 2008.
  10. ^ "HSE progress is slow but more patients are not waiting longer".
  11. ^ "Major delays with medical card scheme". RTÉ.ie. 22 March 2010.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 August 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Kelly, Fiach; McDonald, Brian (12 May 2011). "Blunder by HSE puts up to 25 rape cases in doubt -". Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  14. ^ "HSE boss Tony O'Brien steps down in wake of CervicalCheck scandal". Irish Independent. 10 May 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  15. ^ "HSE chief Tony O'Brien to take leave of absence from US board". Irish Times. 3 May 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  16. ^ O'Brien, Carl. "Ombudsman finds children waiting years for vital assessments". The Irish Times. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Some health service disruption after HSE cyber attack". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  18. ^ "Irish health service hit by 'very sophisticated' ransomware attack". Reuters. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  19. ^ "Irish health service hit by cyber attack". BBC News. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Ransomware attack disrupts Irish health services". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  21. ^ "Cyber attack 'most significant on Irish state'". BBC News. 15 May 2021. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  22. ^ Lally, Conor (18 May 2021). "Wizard Spider profile: Suspected gang behind HSE attack is part of world's first cyber-cartel". The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  23. ^ "HSE Cyber Security Incident". Health Service Executive (HSE). 19 May 2021. Retrieved 19 May 2021.

External linksEdit