Gastroenterology Professor Anthony O'Connor has resigned from the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council.

He is the third person to step down from the health service reform programme this month.

Laura Magahy, the full-time Executive Director of the programme, and Professor Tom Keane, the Chairperson of the Council, resigned earlier in September.

In a post on Twitter, Prof O'Connor said he would not be commenting on his resignation.

A spokesperson for Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: "The Minister thanks Professor O'Connor for his dedication to Sláintecare and the health service.

"The Government is committed to implementing universal health care and Sláintecare remains the road map for achieving this."

In his resignation letter to the Minister or Health, seen by RTÉ News, Prof O'Connor said that he suspects that some iteration of Sláintecare will emerge from recent events, but will bear little or no relation to what was envisaged by the Oireachtas All Party Committee on the Future of Healthcare.

Prof O'Connor said that when he was appointed to the SIAC, he was eager to help to implement the will of the people, in respect of the future direction of healthcare in Ireland.

He said that when the chairperson of SIAC Prof Tom Keane resigned a few weeks ago on foot of a number of SIAC resignations since the summer, he was presented with a difficult choice.

On his options, he said in the letter: "To accept at face value the word of a senior clinician and healthcare reformist with an international track record that fundamental failures of governance, accountability and commitment continue to make any chance of success impossible, or given the fact that SIAC had clearly been kept very much in the dark on the issues that led to the resignations, to lead the group to pursue answers and direction for ourselves to remain loyal to the project."

Prof O'Connor said that he chose the latter, out of respect for the ideals of Sláintecare and a sense of duty to those who will rely on it.

"I have however come to the very reluctant conclusion that while I am frustrated that he did not share it with members before his resignation, the chairman's analysis was entirely correct."

Prof O'Connor said that elements of the culture Laura Magahy created were working, as evidenced by the significant progress that was made.

But he said it was now clear that the culture of collaboration, respect, community and engagement that had been envisaged by the Sláintecare report had been bulldozed.

Prof O'Connor said that what has been chosen by the Government to replace it is entirely incongruous with the principles of the project.

He added that the devolution of power to regions and communities is not going to happen, given the approach he bore witness to in yesterday's meeting with the head of the HSE Paul Reid and the Secretary General of the Department of Health Robert Watt.

Meanwhile, the council is expected to seek a meeting with the leaders of the three parties in Government to discuss the controversy over progress in the programme.

The term of office of the council ends in late October. It has asked the Government to extend its term to the end of the year.

Additional reporting Paul Cunningham