The update on Sláintecare from Robert Watt and Paul Reid today was "disappointing", Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall says.
The Department of Health Secretary-General and HSE CEO appeared before the Oireachtas Health Committee this morning to give a progress report on the plan to reform the health service.
There were testy and ill-tempered exchanges as the two men fielded questions and criticisms from TDs and senators.
Both civil servants said they were happy with changes to Sláintecare governance, but admitted to issues with HSE recruitment targets
However, a number of TDs said the two men clearly didn't understand the programme and bemoaned the lack of progress made to date.
Paul Reid was defensive of the progress made so far despite the impact of the pandemic, and claimed some politicians needed a "reality check".
While the hearing was focused on Sláintecare, both men were also asked about their pay - which combined is equivalent to 18 nurses.
Mr Watt refused to answer any questions on his salary, while Mr Reid said his remuneration wasn't decided by him
Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, Deputy Shortall - a member of the committee - said the meeting was disappointing.
She said: "We were hoping progress would have been made on one of the key aspects of Sláintecare - introducing a regional structure, so the services will be provided locally.
“When issues arise and when there are problems, [we’ll] be able to identify who is responsible for providing those services and there can be accountability.
“Unfortunately, progress on that aspect was very slow. We really had to put a lot of pressure to get an update from Mr Watt and Mr Reid.
"We’d given them notice that today was to concentrate on that issue… but very little progress has been made.”
She said both senior civil servants are "kept more than busy" with their everyday management of the health service, so it's "not appropriate" for them to be leading the reform programme as well.
She suggested their attitude today helped her understand why two senior officials resigned last year from the board tasked with overseeing the implementation of the plan.
The Social Democrats TD said she's concerned Mr Watt and Mr Reid aren't fully committed to devolving power from the centre of the HSE.
She observed: “They seem to be doing something quite different, which is about retaining power at the centre and just devolving some areas of responsibility.
“It struck me that Mr Watt had a different understanding of what Sláintecare entailed… that’s why we were so concerned about it. He’s seeing this, I believe, as a way of not doing the full Sláintecare plan.
“I think a lot of time has been lost… what we need now is for both Robert Watt and Paul Reid to refocus on implementing the detail of what’s in the Sláintecare plan.”