Saturday 27 December 2014

HSE apologises to surgeon who sued over reviews

Mary Carolan

Published 16/05/2014 | 17:34

THE HSE has unreservedly apologised to a surgeon who sued arising from the carrying out of reviews of surgical services at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan, Co Meath in 2005 and 2010.

In the High Court today, the HSE acknowledged Joseph McGrath "is a surgeon of the highest integrity and reputation" and has also agreed to pay him damages, plus his legal costs, under a settlement of his action in which he alleged the reviews unfairly impacted on him and caused him damage.

 

That action was initiated in 2007 and adjourned several times before being listed for a five week hearing on June 18.

 

Seamus Woulfe SC, with David Lennon BL, for Mr McGrath, told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan today it had settled on terms including an apology on behalf ot the HSE.

 

Maireád McKenna BL, for the HSE, consented to the settlement.

 

In the apology, the HSE said it unreservedly apologised to Mr McGrath and his family for its failure to honour his rights to natural justice and fair procedures in the context of review and report procedures undertaken on its behalf from 2005 to 2010, and in particular those in 2010.

 

Actions taken insofar as they relate to Mr McGrath on foot of those reviews and reports are hereby withdrawn, the apology also stated.

 

"The HSE acknowledges and deeply regrets the suffering its actions have caused Mr McGrath, professionally and personally," it stated.

 

The apology added the "HSE acknowledges that he is a surgeon of the highest integrity and reputation" and stated, as part of the agreement wth him, it would pay an undisclosed sum of damages and his legal costs.

 

Mr Justice Gilligan said he would receive and file the settlement and make orders striking out the proceedings and the costs orders.

 

Mr McGrath, who publicly opposed HSE cutbacks which he alleged had led to a downgrading of Our Lady's Hospital in Navan, sued in 2007 after objecting the contents of reviews initiated in 2005 into surgical services at the hospital were unfair and undermined him.

 

He sought a range of orders and damages, including exemplary damages, for mental distress and reputational damage.  

 

He was placed on administrative leave for three months in 2010 arising from two complaints made against him in relation to two operations.

 

Mr McGrath insisted both operations were carried out successfully and there were no grounds for the decision to place him on administrative leave.

 

In his action, he alleged breaches of his contractual agreement with the HSE and breaches of his rights to natural justice and fair procedures.

 

His efforts to discharge his duties competently and efficiently were beset by significant difficulties in his work environment at the Navan hospital, he alleged.

 

He alleged concerns and difficulties relating to health and safety, the "ring fencing" of beds and consequent repeated cancellation of procedures and inherent risk to patient care.

 

Mr McGrath said a report commissioned by the HSE from external independent consultant Rodney Peyton of July 2011 had identified no negligent errors in respect of Mr McGrath's practice.

 

 Another report into his care of two patients - referred to as Patient A abd Patient B - found no serious personal failures to deliver the standard of care required by him of Patient A and that none of the allegations made regarding the care of the second patient were supported, he said.

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