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Health boss quits 'poisoned chalice' job

The Review chairman John Compton presented the report Transforming Your Care - A Review of Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland to the Minister setting out 99 recommendations to improve how health and social care is delivered in Northern Ireland.r Pic Hugh Russell
Seanin Graham

THE director of a multi-million pound NHS reform project dogged by criticism is quitting the role for a new job in the health service - with no-one to replace her.

Pamela McCreedy, an accountant by background, is leaving her high-profile post heading up Transforming Your Care (TYC) to become deputy chief executive and 'director of operations' at the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.

In April, the Irish News reported that Ms McCreedy had been 'temporarily' seconded to the troubled health trust.

However, officials at the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) - her current employers - have confirmed the permanent move.

Ms McCreedy's departure comes at time of severe pressures and spiralling waiting lists in the health service, with concerns repeatedly raised about the TYC programme.

Now in the fourth year of a five-year roll-out, the project was conceived by former HSCB chief John Compton and billed as the biggest overhaul of the north's health services in decades - aiming to concentrate more care in the community and reduce hospital stays.

However, it has been castigated for failing to implement significant changes both in the hospital and community setting.

Around £25m has been invested in TYC projects, with another £15m required for this financial year.

Dr George O'Neill, who has been an outspoken critic of TYC, described the director's job as a "poisoned chalice".

"Who will want to take on this role when TYC has failed to achieve what it set out to do?" he said.

The development also coinicides with a probe into the effectiveness of the Board - whose role is to assess the the population's healthcare needs and commission services - with the Department of Health carrying out a review of the organisation's work.

Set up in 2009 to reduce huge levels of bureaucracy in the sector, the HSCB came under fire last year over a 20 per cent hike in wages and staffing levels, with £25m spent on salaries alone.

A HSCB spokeswoman refused to comment on whether Ms McCreedy will be replaced but said that "TYC remains a priority" for the organisation.

She referred to the department's review of the Board and its commissioning work, admitting that "consideration will be given to our structures and reform capacity" following its findings.

She added: "As part of our own continuous improvement agenda, we are currently looking at how we could improve how we commission services, and ensure that reform is further embedded and enabled.

"The Health and Social Care Board would like to congratulate Pamela McCreedy on her new post… and thank her for the leadership, work and commitment in the role that she has undertaken... for the last three years."

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