Dáil debates

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

2:30 pm

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)

At the outset, I wish to convey again my sincere sympathy to the Walsh family on the death of Mr. Patrick J. Walsh. Following his death in Monaghan General Hospital on 14 October 2005, the Health Service Executive commissioned Mr. Declan Carey, a consultant surgeon at Belfast City Hospital and an honorary senior lecturer at Queen's University, and Professor John Monson, professor of surgery University of Hull, to carry out an independent and external review.

The HSE published the report of the independent inquiry on 7 September. The report details the difficulties that arose in trying to secure Mr. Walsh's transfer from Monaghan to either Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda or Cavan General Hospital. It also exposes a failure in communications between clinicians and hospitals in the region.

The reviewers considered that making the changes would definitively remove the risk of similar clinical incidents occurring again in the region. Since the death of Mr. Walsh, a new protocol for patient transfer has been put in place. It provides that all requests for transfer from Monaghan General Hospital to Cavan General Hospital or Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda should be granted and processed immediately. The HSE recently established a steering group and a north-east project group to oversee a programme to improve safety and standards across the acute hospital network in the region.

The Teamwork report makes a number of short, medium and long-term recommendations. It concludes that the present system, where five local hospitals deliver acute care to a relatively small population, is exposing patients to increased risks and creating additional professional risks for staff. The report highlights the need to develop a high quality and responsive emergency and planned service, in line with international standards, by developing local services within existing hospitals and other local centres supported by a new regional hospital.

Led by the HSE's National Hospitals Office, a steering group has representation from key stakeholders such as clinicians and primary care providers. The project group is being led by a consultant surgeon from outside the region, Dr. Eilis McGovern. The HSE has given me an assurance that, in progressing the implementation of these reports, there will be no discontinuation of existing services until suitable alternative arrangements have been put in place.


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