Strong Donegal links to man appointed to a top new job in the HSE

Parents both hail from Arranmore Island

Democrat Reporter

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Strong Donegal links to man appointed to a top new job in the HSE

John Connaghan joins the HSE from the Scottish Government as NHS Chief Operating Officer. Both of John's parents hail from Arranmore Island.

John Connaghan who has just been appointed to the newly created position of Chief Operations Officer of the Health Service Executive has very strong Donegal connections. It's regarded as a key new role in the HSE and the man appointed has deep Donegal links.

Both of John's parents hail from Arranmore Island. John, who was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for services to health in 2015 by Queen Elizabeth, joins the HSE from the Scottish Government as NHS Chief Operating Officer. 

He has over 30 years’ experience of both the private and public sector and he will be responsible for the overall operational performance management of the service delivery system within the health services including Acute Hospitals, Community Care, National Ambulance Services, Primary Care Reimbursement Services (PCRS) and the Special Delivery Unit (SDU).

The Chief Operations Officer role will be performed in close liaison and co-operation with the Chief Strategy and Planning Officer and in collaboration with the wider HSE Leadership Team and other key stakeholders. An announcement regarding the appointment of a HSE Chief Strategy and Planning Officer will take place shortly. Both the Chief Operations Officer and the Chief Strategy and Planning Officer will in addition perform the functions of Deputy Directors General of the HSE.

An important role for the newly appointed Chief Operations Officer is to enable front line services to become more integrated, effective, efficient and more directly accountable for the services that they deliver. A key challenge will be to ensure the delivery of the maximum amount of safe services for patients and other service users, strictly within the limits of the resources made available and in the most appropriate way.

John has over 30 years’ experience of both the private and public sector. John joins the HSE from the Scottish Government as NHS Chief Operating Officer.

Since joining NHS Scotland in 2006, John has held three different Chief Executive positions with responsibility for some of the largest teaching hospitals in Scotland. He has also spent some time as interim Director General and Chief Executive of the NHS with accountable officer status for £12.5bn and 156,000 staff.

As Director of NHS Delivery with the Scottish Government, John had a remit to improve overall performance. Over a ten year period demonstrable results were delivered in both elective and unscheduled care waiting times. 

The creation of the Chief Operations Officer post follows a decision to restructure senior posts in the HSE as part of the Programme for Health Service Improvement. 


About John Connaghan
John has over 30 years' experience of both the private and public sector. He spent the early part of his career in the printing and publishing industry with responsibility for manufacturing plants in Scotland and the USA, introducing the concept of quality circles and “lean” in a factory environment.

During his NHS career in Scotland, John held three different Chief Executive positions with responsibility for some of the largest teaching hospitals in Scotland.
John joined the Scottish Government in 2006 as Director of NHS Delivery - with the remit to improve overall NHS performance. He achieved demonstrable improvements and results over a ten year period in both elective and unscheduled care waiting times. John is leaving the Scottish Government as NHS Chief Operating Officer having spent some time as interim Director General and Chief Executive of the NHS with accountable officer status for £12.5bn and 156,000 staff.

John’s experience in the NHS has included formulating acute services strategy at local and national level and chairing National Boards for efficiency, productivity , e-health and the modernisation of outpatient services . John’s current interests extend to ‘Flow Process’ across the whole health system, shifting the balance of care from acute services to the community – demonstrating how transformational leadership can be used to support staff and patient interests in times of change.

Outside the work environment John was one of the founding directors for the Maggies centres (cancer charity) now one of the UK’s biggest cancer charities. He served on the Board of the charity for a period of ten years as a non-executive director. John has over 50 caps at Masters level playing hockey for Scotland and was part of the squad representing Scotland at the WGMA World Cup in Sydney in 2016.

In 2015, Queen Elizabeth awarded John the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for services to health.

John has deep Irish connections with both parents originally from Donegal and specifically from Arranmore Island .