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IHCA members overwhelmingly voted to establish a working group to look into possible conflicts of interest when Association members become clinical directors.
A motion was passed at last weekend’s 2015 Annual Conference to establish a working group, after members expressed concerns over possible tensions arising out of IHCA members taking up “management” roles in hospitals.
One of the original founders of the Association, Mr Brendan Healy, said that he had concerns over the situation.
“I think clinical directors, by and large, have crossed over the line,” he told the AGM.
“They are no longer clinicians they are representing management. I don’t think they should be on Council.”
A number of other speakers also raised concerns over Association members who are clinical directors, serving on the IHCA Council. Speakers said that there could be problems in a situation when there is a dispute between a consultant and a clinical director, if both of these are members of the IHCA.
Former IHCA President Dr Mary McCaffrey said “there is some disquiet in the organisation” and “there are clearly areas where there might be conflict between being a clinical director and a consultant”.
Winding up the debate, IHCA Secretary General Mr Martin Varley said that the “Association was there to represent all members”. When there is a situation where the Association has to represent both a member who is a clinical director and a member who is a consultant, then the Association operates a system of “Chinese walls”.
“Whether that is a perfect solution, that is another matter,” he acknowledged.
IHCA President Mr Gerard Crotty told journalists after the debate that, in general, problems “had not come up a lot” over the years because of this issue.
“In the past, there had been a number of clinical directors on Council; at the moment, I think there is one,” he said.
“It is quite a complex issue, because with the [HSE] hospital groups, now there are associate clinical directors, national clinical leads, heads of various clinical programmes and so on.
“So with any management role, does it mean you are on the management side, or are you primarily a consultant? Consultants, when they are in these roles, are still members of the IHCA, so they still deserve to be represented.”