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No permanent head of SDU for over a year

The HSE has not provided any details as to when a permanent head of the special delivery unit (SDU) will be appointed.

The SDU has a particular remit in assisting acute hospitals to address overcrowding, which may worsen over the coming months due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Ever since the former head of the unit, Ms Grace Rothwell, departed the position in early 2019, the role has been filled on an interim basis by Ms Sonya Cotter.

Last July, the HSE told the Medical Independent there was no specific timeline to fill the post, and that the appointment would be made “in due course”.

When this newspaper asked the HSE for an update on the role, a spokesperson said: “There are plans to fill it on a permanent basis but we don’t have any further detail on it at this stage.”

Ms Cotter has senior management experience in patient flow as former Head of Bed Management in Cork University Hospital and as a Service Improvement Lead in the SDU, where she has led on a number of initiatives, including winter planning.

She has a clinical background in nursing and has further qualifications in using Lean systems to support service and value improvement.

The ex-head of the SDU, Ms Rothwell, was appointed as General Manager of University Hospital Waterford last year.

According to the HSE website, the SDU works closely with hospitals and Hospital Groups, the National Treatment Purchase Fund and the emergency department taskforce to improve access to care for patients in public hospitals. It is part of the HSE’s performance management and improvement unit.

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