Taoiseach must clarify contingency plans in respect of transplant patients – Adams
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, raising recent revelations relating to children waiting for heart and liver transplants at Crumlin Children’s Hospital not being guaranteed transport for transplant surgery, has said that ‘the Taoiseach should clarify what contingency arrangements are in place for the transport of transplant patients’.
He said that this is “another shocking case that highlights the utter incompetence and inability of the government to manage our health service”.
Teachta Adams said:
“Yesterday, I raised with the Taoiseach the scandal of tens of thousands of patients being omitted from official waiting list numbers published by the National Treatment Purchase Fund.
“Today, I want to raise with him another shocking case that highlights the utter incompetence and inability of the government to manage our health service.
“The Taoiseach will recall the case of Meadhbh McGivern and the failure to transport her for a liver transplant in July 2011. An enquiry was put in place into the circumstances that led to the failed transportation of Meadhbh and the interagency arrangements in place for people requiring emergency transportation for transplant surgery.
“Among the recommendations of the enquiry was the need for co-ordination of land and air logistics; including all State assets and private charters for patients requiring transplants, and also for patients requiring emergency aeromedical transportation.
“On the 22nd December 2016, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin was told by the National Aeromedical Command Centre that the transport of ‘Priority 1’ children for heart and liver transplants could not be guaranteed over the Christmas period.
“This matter was brought to the direct attention of Minister Simon Harris.
“On the 3rd January, the hospital was informed that the situation had worsened and that the four hour timeframe for heart transplants was likely to be ‘unachievable’ and the six house timeframe for liver transplants was also in doubt.
“This affects seven children whose lives are at risk and whose families were not informed of these developments.
“On the 16th January, the hospital was told that the situation will remain unchanged until the end of May this year, at the earliest.
“The Department of Health said it will continue to raise the issues with the Department of Defence, and the Taoiseach is the Minister responsible for Department of Defence.
“So I want to know, has the Department of Health raised these issues with the Department of Defence, and if so, can if the Taoiseach will provide the details of this contact and if the Taoiseach will clarify what contingency arrangements are in place for the transport of transplant patients?”
Responding, the Taoiseach said that:
“This was brought to my attention at the weekend and I have asked for a report from the Department of Defence. I am the Minister for Defence, but I have given statutory responsibility for many areas in the Department to the Minister of State, Paul Kehoe.
“He is meeting the Minister for Health today. As soon as I have that report I will make it public in order that parents of children, in particular, will have the comfort of knowing that if a call comes in respect of their child, it will be answered with available transport within the time period.”