It is important for Health Mangers to be members of a professional body

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Seamus Gallagher
Seamus Gallagher

I am honoured and privileged to be asked to write an article for the 75th celebration of the establishment of the Health Management Institute (HMI). I am delighted that the history of the Institute is being documented as part of its 75thAnniversary. To me, history is so important. As Winston Churchill said, “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see,” writes Seamus Gallagher.

I first came in contact with the Institute when I was Manager in the Western Health Board, with responsibility for the acute, mental health and elderly services in County Roscommon. I attended a conference in Dublin which was part of the celebrations of the HMI 50th anniversary, in November 1995. The organisation was then called ‘Institute of Hospital Managers.’ I was warmly welcomed, by the then President, Kieran Hickey, Secretary, Ned Byrne, the late Derek Dockery RIP and many more. I joined the HMI because of my interest in education and development of Managers, which I felt was the core of the ethos of the Institute. This was apparent to me from the deliberations at the conference. Afterwards, I applied for membership, which was approved in 1996. Later that year, I attended the A.G.M. in Dublin, and afterwards I was invited to join the National Council.

I was the first member of the Council from the West of Ireland and was delighted that in March 1998, I organised a National Council meeting and seminar in Merlin Park University Hospital Galway. This was one of the first meetings of the National Council outside of Dublin.

I was a member of Council for over 12 years, following election on a number of occasions. I enjoyed my tenure on the Council and was delighted to participate with, and work with, other members of Council in the development, and expansion of the Institute and raising its profile throughout the health services in Ireland. 

One of my first activities was to promote the Institute in the West and encourage fellow Mangers to become members. I also co-ordinated increased activity by the Institute in the region. As a result, the membership in the West increased from 2 to over 40 members in the first year.

My other major activity on Council was as in delivering and organising post graduate lectures throughout the country. I worked on this project with fellow Council member Pat Smyth – the then Chief Executive in Leopardstown Hospital. Our work involved establishing the needs of Managers, in terms of postgraduate, continuing professional development (CPD). Following discussion and research, we organised seminars on current issues in the Health Services, new reports, new and quality initiatives. We expanded the access for members to these seminars throughout the country, through the use of video link, which involved having a live seminar transmitted to centres in the Regional Health Boards, voluntary hospitals in Dublin, Cork and Limerick and other health services. Video link was a new IT facility at that the time and was in the early stages of development. It worked very well, thanks to the support of Health Mangers and IT Managers across the country. We were both very thankful to John Lahan of the IT Department in the then Southern Health Board, who was very supportive. In order to provide a quality experience, we arranged that all hard copies of presentations were supplied in advance to those in attendance at all venues.

In line with the developments of IT & improved communication and access for members the Council approved the development of a website. I headed up a sub-committee which included Robert McCutcheon, Council member and Caroline Buckley, IT Southern Health Board. We completed our task with a new website and were delighted that Taoiseach Michael Martin, the then Minister of Health, launched the website in Leopardstown Hospital in January 2004.

A few years later, Council felt the website needed upgrading. I chaired the new group whose members included Denis Doherty, then Chief Executive of HeBE, Mary Garvin Internal Communications HSE West, Ross Culliton IT Specialist HeBe. We revised the website in line with the up-to-date facilities. Our revised website www.hmi.ie was launched by then Minister of Finance Brian Cowen in The Tullamore Court Hotel in March 2006.

During our deliberations on the revised website, we felt it was necessary to change the organisation’s name. After discussions and approval from the National Council, the name was changed to Health Management Institute or HMI, as it is now known. In the process we created a more modern HMI logo, which is still in use. 

HMI
HMI

The upgraded website, www.hmi.ie and logo facillated easier access by all to the work, services and other information on the HMI. It also facilitated us in expanding membership to not alone represent hospital or general managers, which was traditionally the membership of the Institute but to managers in nursing, allied health professionals, maintenance technical , catering etc. We also expanded to the wider health services, such as the voluntary, private, and not for profit sectors. The creation of the website and the new logo helped greatly helpful in that process.

In 2010, I was delighted to be awarded a Fellowship of the Institute by the National Council, in recognition of my dedication and hard work in the HMI and specifically for the expansion and development of the Institute in the West of Ireland. Taoiseach Brian Cowen, TD presented the Fellowship Awards in the Tullamore Court Hotel.

I took early retirement for the HSE in late 2010 and developed my own business in the areas of health consultancy, Life Coaching and more recently, broadcasting. Shortly afterwards, I was invited to join the HMI West Regional Group, I was again involved in organising seminars on key national and local initiatives, which are normally held in Merlin Park University Hospital. Given the wide nature of health management, I found that it was an opportunity to facilitate further education and CPD opportunities for members and at the same time raise the profile of the Institute locally. In addition, it provided a forum for Managers within the HSE to meet and network with Managers and representatives of other health sector organisations/companies within the local area. The seminars in the West were very well supported with at least three every year. 

We in the West have gone “full circle,” in that the two senior roles in the Institute i.e. President, Tony Canavan and Vice President, Breda Crehan Roche are members in the West of Ireland, while back in 1996 there were no more than two members in the west. Thanks to both Tony and Breda for their support to me in my work with the Institute. I wish them well in their roles.

I joined the Institute because of my interest in the training and development of managers in the health services. I enjoyed working in the development of the Institute in the West of Ireland, through its work in the 

postgraduation/seminars for mangers in key, relevant and topical issues, in the management and delivery of health and social services.

I felt it was important that experienced health mangers, in particular those in general management should hold membership of a professional body and also avail of the valuable services offered by the HMI such as postgraduate education. 

I felt it was important that experienced health mangers, in particular those in general management should hold membership of a professional body and also avail of the valuable services offered by the HMI such as postgraduate education. It was important for mangers from an admin/management background to be recognised as a professional group.

My membership was critical for me in keeping me up-to-date on important topics, issues, and good practices in management in the health service. My involvement facilated networking with managers across all parts of the country and in many aspects of health management. I know that these colleagues are always willing to provide support and advice at any time. It assisted me in being aware of what was going on in health services around the country. 

During my time on the Council I met dedicated Managers, who were passionate about the development of good management practice and all gave of their knowledge, experience, energy and professionalism to the HMI, in the in their own time. They are colleagues & friends.

A big ‘thank you’ to all.

Wishing the HMI all the best for the future.

Seamus Gallagher DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster)
*Health & HR Consultant, Life Coach & Broadcaster *
*B.A. (Hons), F.H.M.I., A.M.A.C., DTM
087 2547748 

Member of HMI Council for 12 years