Press Release

An Taoiseach and Minister Harris announce Executive Director of Sláintecare Programme Office and Chair of Advisory Council to lead health reform

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, and the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, today announced the appointment of  Ms Laura Magahy as Executive Director to lead the new Sláintecare Programme Office and of Dr Tom Keane as Chair of the Sláintecare Advisory Council. These are two key roles to drive forward reform of the health service, in line with the vision in the Sláintecare report.  

The report of the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, the Sláintecare Report, sets out a vision for the future of healthcare over a ten-year period.  Since Sláintecare was published, the Government has taken a series of actions which are essential to realising this vision. Today’s announcement marks another significant milestone in the journey.

Steps already taken by Government on foot of recommendations in the Sláintecare Report include:

  • The establishment of an Independent Group to examine Private Practice in Public Hospitals
  • A public consultation on the geographical alignment of Hospital Groups and Community Health Organisations
  • The commencement of negotiations for a new GP contract  
  • Publication of the National Development Plan, providing for a major programme of investment totalling €10.9 billion in the health service. This was informed by, and makes provision for, significant additional capacity as recommended in the Health Service Capacity Review. This includes 2,600 acute hospital beds, 3 new elective facilities and 4,500 community care beds
  • The establishment of an independent Board for the HSE.

Following a competitive public competition and a rigorous selection process led by the Public Appointments Service, Ms Laura Magahy has been appointed as the Executive Director of the Sláintecare Programme Office. Ms Magahy is one of Ireland’s leading and most innovative strategic project directors and has a wide range of experience in devising and leading complex and challenging national initiatives and major projects.  She will take up the position in September and a recruitment process for the Sláintecare Programme Office team will begin shortly.

Dr Tom Keane has been appointed by the Minister for Health to chair the Sláintecare Advisory Council, which will provide expert and independent advice to the Sláintecare Programme Office. The Council will comprise clinicians, patient representatives, international experts and other stakeholders. Dr Keane has extensive experience internationally in clinical practice, research and health care leadership and management.  

Speaking today, the Taoiseach said, “I am pleased to announce the appointment of Laura Magahy as Executive Director of the Sláintecare Programme Office and Tom Keane as Chair of the Sláintecare Advisory Council. The appointments to these key leadership roles signal the Government’s continuing commitment to improving and modernising our health services.  Laura and Tom bring a wealth of experience and expertise to these roles, having been instrumental leaders in many major change initiatives.

The next decade will see a period of significant investment and reform in our health services. The National Development Plan will provide €10.9 billion investment in health providing for essential new capacity and redevelopment across the service. Improving governance is also an urgent priority. We are putting in place a new board for the HSE. Recruitment is ongoing for a new CEO of the HSE. These will be pivotal appointments in improving the management and performance of the health service. Finally, the implementation of a Sláintecare programme of reform will bring about a transformation of our health service. Our health care needs are changing, and this requires real change in how we deliver and experience care. I am confident that the appointments today will be instrumental in leading and managing change for the better, for the Irish health service.  

Minister Harris said, “Today marks another important step in a long term process to transform our health service.  Sláintecare provides us with a framework within which change can be planned, managed and implemented over the next decade.”  

The Oireachtas Committee emphasised the importance of effective implementation to achieve change. The appointments today put in place the necessary management and advisory structures to lead this implementation process. Laura Magahy has a proven track record in delivery, innovation and change management and I am delighted that she will take up the Director role of the Programme Office. An advisory council will be established to provide expert advice and support to Laura and her team, and I am delighted to appoint Tom Keane to chair this Council. Tom has vast experience of healthcare here in Ireland and abroad. I look forward to working with Laura and Tom as we move forward on this very important reform agenda.”

Laura Magahy, Executive Director of the Sláintecare Programme Office said, “I’m very honoured to be appointed as Executive Director of Sláintecare. Sláintecare provides a real opportunity to transform health services over the coming decade. I’m committed to building on the foundation of consensus that has brought Sláintecare to this point, and to working with all stakeholders to make the vision set out in the Sláintecare report a reality.”

Dr Tom Keane, Chairperson of the Sláintecare Advisory Council said, “Similar to other countries, the Irish health system needs to radically change if it is to properly meet the health needs of the population. Strong leadership, clear governance and effective engagement of stakeholders across the health sector will be essential to successful reform, as will a long-term vision for health policy that remains constant from government to government – that is what Sláintecare represents.”


Notes to the Editor

Appointment process for the Executive Director

The appointment of the Sláintecare Executive Director follows a rigorous and competitive public application process, which was managed independently by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) on behalf of the Department of Health.

The post was advertised on January 12th 2018. A national and international executive search formed past of the recruitment process, prior to the closing date of February 1st 2018. The multiple stages, including short-listing and the preliminary and final interviews were managed by the PAS.

Laura Magahy – biography

Over the last 28 years Ms Laura Magahy has led some of Ireland’s most significant and transformational public-sector projects, including the €1 billion urban renewal of Temple Bar (1990 – 2000), Ireland’s first urban renewal project; the €284 million development of the Mater Hospital (2000 – 2014); and the Government initiative Irish Design 2015, which had considerable international reach and economic impact.

Through the strategic design and project management company that she co-founded in 2000, MCO, she has devised and led change initiatives on behalf of clients from the private and public sectors, and specifically in the health sector for the past 17 years, including recently, a number of Hospital  and Hospital Group strategies. From 2002 – 2005 she worked with the HSE/St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group Board on the successful development of the €22 million New Ward Block Building including dedicated Cystic Fibrosis Unit, overseeing brief planning, construction programme, equipping, consultation, liaison with multiple stakeholders, Government funding agencies and the HSE.

Laura was also project director on the Great Northern Haven Intelligent Lifetime Homes Project, working with the Department of Environment and Local Government and Dundalk Town Council as well the HSE and a range of other stakeholders, to deliver sensor-enabled homes and community accommodation to foster independent living.

Laura Magahy is a Fellow and past President of the Institute of Directors, and is one of Ireland’s top Level A Project Directors. She is an honorary member of the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland  and has served on numerous public, private and plc boards as Chairman, Non-Executive Director, and Executive Director, including CIE, The Arts Council and The Design and Crafts Council.

In 2014, she also founded ceramic company, Arran Street East.  

Her qualifications include:

  • MBA, TCD
  • BA in German and Music, UCC
  • Lean Green Belt in Healthcare
  • Level A Certified Projects Director, Institute of Project Management
  • Chartered Director, Institute of Directors, London
  • MSc in Healthcare Management, TCD (Year 1)

Dr Tom Keane – biography

A native of Dublin, Dr Tom Keane attended UCD and subsequently completed three years post graduate training in St Vincent’s Hospital and the Adelaide Hospital, Dublin before taking up a post as consultant Radiation Oncologist at the Princess Margaret Hospital and University of Toronto, where he held a number of significant leadership positions.

In 1995 he moved to Vancouver to take up new leadership positions at the British Columbia Cancer Agency (BCCA) and the University of British Columbia (UBC).  

He has researched and published extensively, particularly in the areas of cancer research, and has held visiting professor positions around the world.

Amongst the honours and awards that have been granted to him include the O’Farrell Gold Medal in Surgery (1971); The Annual Residents Award for excellence in clinical teaching, Dept of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto (1995);  Governor General of Canada Award/ Commemorative Medal for the 125th anniversary of the confederation of Canada, in recognition of significant contribution to compatriots, community and to Canada (1992); the Annual Gordon Richards Lecturer, Canadian Association of Radiation  Oncologists (1993); Honorary Fellowship, Faculty of Radiology, The Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (FFRCSI) (2006); Honorary Fellowship, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (2017); the Terry Fox lectureship and medal (shared with Professor Susan O’Reilly) presented by the British Columbia Medical Association in recognition of contributions to cancer care in British Columbia (2011).

In 2006 he was granted a 4-month temporary secondment to assist in the development and implementation of the National Radiotherapy plan in Ireland. This work was carried out from November 2006 to March 2007 at which time he returned to his former positions at BCCA and UBC. In November 2007 he was appointed as the founding Director of the National Cancer Control Programme in Ireland, with the goal of implementing the National Cancer Strategy. He completed this secondment in February 2010 and returned to Vancouver, where he served as senior policy advisor to the President of BCCA until his retirement in February 2011. In 2016/17 Dr. Keane chaired the Policy Forum “Towards 2026” for the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.