The CEO of the Health Service Executive Paul Reid has said that the health service recognises that massive reform is needed and there is "absolute consensus" among the HSE and government about the need to move to a regional structure.

Mr Reid reaffirmed his commitment to driving the Sláintecare agenda and said that the last 18 months were concentrated on the pandemic and on protecting lives.

He told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that along with regional bodies, there is also a need to tackle the big issues around healthcare and waiting lists as "they are equal issues too".

He said that HSE staff are "fully up for that".

The issue of delivering the healthcare reform programme is being questioned following the resignations of two senior officials involved in the implementation of it.

Paul Reid said that the issue of timing has impacted the delivery of the regional structure and that "the public would not thank us...for putting our resources into regional design at the time we were battling four waves of Covid and a cyber attack".

However, he said the public should take great confidence out of the strides made in that time to drive home some operational reforms.

Mr Reid said that the Taoiseach and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly are giving consideration to the best approach to the regional structures.

He said there are no aligned regional structures, but nine community health organisations and six hospital groups that are not integrated or aligned.

He said as part of that we have to work out what work best at local level and regional level and how to integrate those services, and then see what works best at a national level.

He said there has been no major disagreement over the last 18 months, but the priority was on Covid-19.

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