An Unholy Mess

No, not my poor old head. I’ll tell you about that another day.

I’m talking about the latest controversy to rock the Irish health service. Yet another systems failure has emerged which directly impacts on patient care and safety. Am I surprised? Sadly, not one bit.

News emerged earlier this week that almost 58,000 x-rays taken over a 5-year period at Tallaght hospital in Dublin, were never reviewed by a consultant radiologist. Today, we hear that many thousands of GP referral letters lie unopened and unanswered somewhere within the bowels of the hospital.

Now everyone’s fighting over who’s to blame for these astounding revelations.

Consultant radiologists at Tallaght hospital say that over the past three to four years, they have written more than 40 letters to hospital management seeking extra staff to cope with the volume of work. They also say they warned management that there was a growing delay in reporting on X-rays but nothing was done.

The new CEO at  the hospital says that he only became aware of the problem when he was appointed in Decemberof last year.

The GPs in the area say that they’ve been aware for a long time of a major problem with regard to referral letters sent to Tallaght hospital.

Our Minister for Health is conveniently out of the country at a time when the health service is falling apart.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is floundering around trying to restore public confidence in a health service that is on the verge of collapse from years of mismanagement and under resourcing.

There have been heated exchanges in the Dáil this morning over the lack of accountability for the mess.

The whole situation beggars belief. Patient care and safety have undoubtedly been compromised by this latest health scandal. The sad reality is that what’s emerged from Tallaght hospital this week, is only the tip of the iceberg.

5 Responses to An Unholy Mess

  1. Annb says:

    I was wondering which one of us would post about this first!

    Well said Steph and no, like you, I am not one bit surprised. Those 58,000 patients should take a class action against the hospital, the HSE, the Dept of Health and anyone else within firing distance. I’m thinking maybe reckless endangerment, dereliction of duty, non assistance to a person in danger, breach of contract… I could go on! The only way to stop this kind of outrage is to have someone’s head on a plate each time. This problem will be buried under reports – while the HSE ‘looks at the situation’. We need accountability so if nobody is standing up – I suggest we sue everyone who is sitting down – if we fire enough law suits, one of them should stick! Preferably a criminal rather than a civil one! It would do my heart good to see some of these clowns behind bars where they belong!

  2. JBBC says:

    I am rendered speechless to describe my despair at this latest thankfully I have you to do it for me Steph.

  3. Steph says:

    Annb – It’s staggering isn’t it? Frankly, the whole affair stinks but worst of all, it shows a blatant disregard for patient welfare from all concerned.

    I can’t understand why the GPs and consultants didn’t do more to highlight the problems at Tallaght when they were aware this had been going on for years! As it seems there’s no longer any accountability in our health service, the buck stops with our Minister for Health.

    JBBC – It’s a pleasure! As I’ve already stated, I think this scandal is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what will emerge once the other acute hospitals are put under the spotlight.

  4. Steph says:

    Astrid – Hi! there. Thanks for your comment.

    The lack of action (on behalf of patients) from everyone involved in this fiasco, is disturbing.

    Listening to Sara Burke (Health Policy Analyst) on ‘Drivetime’ this evening, she described Tallaght hospital as dysfunctional and I couldn’t agree more. The situation that has gone on there over the years, defies belief. It’s a sad reflection of the monster that the Irish health service has become under Harney’s tenure.

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