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]

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.[6][7] 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.[8]

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.[9] The HSE has since announced a new online system for medical card applications that will reduce turnaround time for routine applications to 15 days.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12][13]

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'.[14]

2021 cyberattackEdit

On 14 May 2021, the HSE was the victim of a criminal cyberattack involving ransomware,[15] with the attack being described as the most significant cybercrime attempt against the Irish state. The HSE shut down all IT systems[16] following the attack, stating patients should still attend scheduled appointments but to expect "significant disruption".[17][18] The HSE and the Irish Government decided not to pay any ransom.[19] According to HSE there is no evidence that large amounts of patient or staff data have been published online or sold to criminals involved in fraud nor that any recently reported scams are linked to this cyberattack.[19] HSE stated on their website that they were working with the Gardaí, Government, their legal team and other agencies to investigate this crime.[19]

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. ^ "Family demands HSE apology over misdiagnosis". The Irish Times. 22 September 2008.
  7. ^ "Up to seven families to be contacted by HSE". RTÉ.ie. 1 April 2008.
  8. ^ "HSE progress is slow but more patients are not waiting longer".
  9. ^ "Major delays with medical card scheme". RTÉ.ie. 22 March 2010.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 August 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Kelly, Fiach; McDonald, Brian (12 May 2011). "Blunder by HSE puts up to 25 rape cases in doubt -". Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  12. ^ "HSE boss Tony O'Brien steps down in wake of CervicalCheck scandal". Irish Independent. 10 May 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  13. ^ "HSE chief Tony O'Brien to take leave of absence from US board". Irish Times. 3 May 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  14. ^ Editor, Carl O'Brien Education. "Ombudsman finds children waiting years for vital assessments". The Irish Times. Retrieved 30 October 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  15. ^ "Irish Health Service Struck by Cyberattack". The Daily Newsbrief. Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporaton.
  16. ^ Immanni, Manikanta (14 May 2021). "DarkSide Ransomware Shutdown Operations After Colonial Pipeline Attack". TechDator. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  17. ^ "HSE shuts down IT system after 'significant' cyber attack". RTE. 14 May 2021. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  18. ^ "What we know so far about the HSE cyber attack". RTÉ. 14 May 2021. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  19. ^ a b c "HSE cyber attack and how it may affect you". Retrieved 3 June 2021.

External linksEdit