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Disastrous HSE and Government policy must be replaced - Ó Caoláin

9 June, 2010 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


Speaking this evening in the Dáil on the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, Sinn Fein Dáil leader said it was an outrage that the Government would consider implementing a Bill that would give even more responsibilities to the HSE in light of the recent scandals exposed in pre- natal care this week and the HSE’s attempts to evict elderly people from their homes at Loughloe House in Athlone.

Ó Caoláin pointed out that the HSE has proven to be disastrous at hospital, regional and State level and should be replaced with community health partnerships that would be truly accountable.

He said:
“Let it not be forgotten, the HSE is a creature of this Fianna Fáil-led Government which set it up. They try to hide behind it but central to HSE failures is the disastrous health policy of this Government.

“Yesterday, due to the bravery of Melissa and Michael Redmond in speaking out, we learned of major flaws in pre-natal care in this State. It has shaken the confidence of women in that care system. That is a terrible development because so many good people work in that system and provide excellent care.

“Management at the Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and in the HSE must be held accountable for the litany of failures that have come to light as a result of this family speaking out. The internal hospital report which has been leaked to the media should now be published in full.
“At hospital, regional and State level, the HSE has proved to be a disaster. It needs to be replaced with community health partnerships that will be truly accountable, something Sinn Féin sees as essential in a reformed health service.
“At the core of this situation is a culture of refusing to listen to patients. That is also at the core of another scandal which has received little attention but which I raised last week and appealed to the Minister for Health to intervene. I refer to the attempts by the HSE to evict elderly people from their homes at Loughloe House in Athlone.

“I pointed out that two patients had died since the HSE closure announcement on 6 May. I have to report that another patient has now passed away, in the early hours of yesterday morning, in Mullingar Hospital.

“Relatives and staff are in no doubt that the stress caused by pressure to move out of Loughloe House was the key factor in their untimely deaths. Two other residents had heart attacks and another man had a stroke. Six people have now been hospitalised, three fatally, in one month.” ENDS


(Full speech follows)

Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010
Second Stage - Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin


I indicated before the adjournment of this Bill last week that Sinn Féin would oppose it. We are even more determined in our opposition this week. In the meantime the management of the HSE, which is given more responsibilities in this Bill, has been exposed yet again as grossly incompetent and unfit to run a health service.

And let it not be forgotten, the HSE is a creature of this Fianna Fáil-led Government which set it up. They try to hide behind it but central to HSE failures is the disastrous health policy of this Government.

Yesterday, due to the bravery of Melissa and Michael Redmond in speaking out, we learned of major flaws in pre-natal care in this State. It has shaken the confidence of women in that care system. That is a terrible development because so many good people work in that system and provide excellent care.
Management at the Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and in the HSE must be held accountable for the litany of failures that have come to light as a result of this family speaking out. The internal hospital report which has been leaked to the media should now be published in full. That report exposes bad clinical practice, outdated and inadequate equipment, lack of guidelines on scanning, no permanent trained staff attached to the Early Pregnancy Unit and no written guidelines for early pregnancy problems.
Where was the oversight and responsibility of hospital management and HSE management in allowing such a situation to develop and to be maintained? Both levels of management have clearly failed miserably yet again. How widespread is this problem, now that we know there were similar cases in Galway and Louth?
At hospital, regional and State level, the HSE has proved to be a disaster. It needs to be replaced with community health partnerships that will be truly accountable, something Sinn Féin sees as essential in a reformed health service.
Where is the Health Minister in all of this? We haven’t heard a peep out of her about this situation. She treats the people and she treats this Dail with contempt. This week’s sitting, where we cannot raise this matter other than under this Bill, is a complete farce.
I have no doubt that current Government cutbacks will only make the situation worse and create further tragedies or near tragedies. The embargo on recruitment is putting ever greater pressure on staff, thus increasing the danger of misdiagnosis.
At the core of this situation is a culture of refusing to listen to patients. That is also at the core of another scandal which has received little attention but which I raised last week and appealed to the Minister for Health to intervene. I refer to the attempts by the HSE to evict elderly people from their homes at Loughloe House in Athlone.

I pointed out that two patients had died since the HSE closure announcement on 6 May. I have to report that another patient has now passed away, in the early hours of yesterday morning, in Mullingar Hospital.

Relatives and staff are in no doubt that the stress caused by pressure to move out of Loughloe House was the key factor in their untimely deaths. Two other residents had heart attacks and another man had a stroke. Six people have now been hospitalised, three fatally, in one month.

There should be an independent investigation of the methods being used by the HSE to relocate residents. Some residents have been threatened with the street if they talk to media or public representatives. Some were threatened with the door if they refused to take another bed offered to them by the HSE.
I call again for the Minister for Health Mary Harney to directly intervene and stand down the HSE’s disgraceful methods of relocating residents. As Minister for Health she has a duty of care for all residents of Loughloe House.

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