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Tánaiste acting like Pontius Pilate on Monaghan Hospital death

18 October, 2005

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health and Children, Caoimhghin Ó
Caoláin  has  said  he is “incredulous” at the attitude of the Tánaiste and
Minister  for Health and Children Mary Harney on the death of Patrick Walsh
in  Monaghan  General Hospital. The Tánaiste has stated that ‘regardless of
what  policy  operates  in  any  particular hospital there is no excuse for
anybody  dying  unnecessarily  because they can’t get access to appropriate
medical care’. Deputy Ó Caoláin, who represents Cavan-Monaghan, responded:

“I  am incredulous that the Tánaiste should make such a statement and treat
the  tragic  death  of  Patrick Walsh in this Pontius Pilate manner. She is
trying  to  place  the blame on Monaghan General Hospital and its dedicated
staff.  She  knows very well that the embargo on acute surgical emergencies
in  Monaghan  has  nothing to do with hospital policy. It is the policy and
the  diktat of this Government through the Health Service Executive and the
Health  Board  before  it.  That  is  what  ties  the hands of the staff at

“The  HSE has ignored the public appeal by the consultant surgeons at Cavan
and Monaghan for Monaghan General Hospital to be allowed to go back on call
for surgical emergencies.

“I  tabled  a  Question  to  the  Tánaiste  for  answer on the day the Dáil
returned  on  29  September,  asking  for  her  response to the call of the
Cavan-Monaghan surgeons. The Question was referred by her to the HSE and to
date  I have still not received a reply. This is typical of the downgrading
of  parliamentary accountability on the health services by this Government.
In the same way they have downgraded services in smaller hospitals, leading
directly to tragedies like the death of Patrick Walsh.

“At  Leaders  Questions in the Dáil today I will be asking the Taoiseach if
he  supports  the  approach  of  the Tánaiste and if he will act to restore
life-saving services to Monaghan.”

Question tabled by Deputy Ó Caoláin 29 September and response received

*   To  ask  the  Tánaiste  and  Minister  for  Health  and Children if her
attention  has  been  drawn to the decision of the seven consultants in the
Joint  Department of Surgery of Cavan and Monaghan Hospitals on 8 September
2005  that  Monaghan  General  Hospital  should  go  back on call for acute
surgical  emergencies;  if  her  further  attention  has  been drawn to the
request  for  adequate  resources  including  hiring  of  theatre nurses in
Monaghan  General  Hospital  for evening and night duties and meetings with
regional  ambulance  control  to ensure no delay in the hospital going back
on-call;  if,  having  familiarised  herself  with the request and with the
HSE's response she will reply directly to this Deputy; and if she will make
a statement on the matter.   - Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

The  Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and
personal  social  services,  which  are  the  responsibility  of the Health
Service  Executive  under  the Health Act 2004.  Accordingly, my Department
has  requested  the  Parliamentary  Affairs  Division  of  the Executive to
arrange  to  have  this  matter  investigated  and  to  have a reply issued
directly to the Deputy.

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