Thursday 29 September 2016

'It's absolutely not possible' - Ireland's only pancreas transplant programme moving hospitals despite strong criticism

Published 21/04/2015 | 20:21

Beaumont Hospital in Dublin
Beaumont Hospital in Dublin

The country's only programme for pancreas transplants is to be moved from Beaumont hospital to St Vincent's despite strong criticism of the move from the former head of the programme.

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David Hickey, who was the Director of the National Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Programme for 30 years until his retirement in December hit out at the move, warning it "can't work".

He revealed that the programme was completely stalled following his departure.

This was because Beaumont hospital did not replace the specialist following his retirement, despite Dr Hickey offering to mentor two possible candidates for a year.

No transplants have taken place over the past three and a half months as a result. Currently there are eight people on the waiting list for the life saving procedure.

Mr Hickey told Independent.ie that he had repeatedly raised concerns with the HSE about the future of the programme and requested more specialists be trained up in the procedure.

David Hickey, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in November 2011 with Olive Fogarty, Chairman of Award Sponsors Ogilvy One Dublin, at the Irish Health Care Awards in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.
David Hickey, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in November 2011 with Olive Fogarty, Chairman of Award Sponsors Ogilvy One Dublin, at the Irish Health Care Awards in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.

“I was the only person doing it for 30 years but in spite of a multitude of letters to the Department of Health nothing was done.

“I had offered the HSE in December to mentor two people working on the programme with me for the last five years. I didn’t even get an answer. I put forward two other alternatives but they weren’t acceptable either,” he said.

A statement from Beaumont hospital to Independent.ie confirmed that, from next month, all pancreas transplants will be carried out in St Vincent’s.

“As St Vincent’s University Hospital is already established as the National Liver transplant centre and is a designated centre for pancreas cancer services, this initiative will enable two National Transplant Programmes to share resources and support and promote improvements in transplantation services.

“As the majority of these cases are combined pancreas and kidney transplants, Beaumont consultants will carry out kidney transplants with their colleagues in St. Vincent’s,” it read.

It continued that the Pancreas Transplant Programme in place in Beaumont since 1998 was provided on a  'pilot basis'. It said Beaumont hospital will continue to care for patients previously transplanted and St. Vincent’s will provide care for any future patients transplanted there.

Dr Hickey criticised the move insisting it was 'absolutely not possible'.

“This is absolute rubbish. They have no idea what they are talking about. It has taken me 30 years to build up the team we have in Beaumont, who are all specialists in what they do. Vincent’s do not have the infrastructure or the knowledge. Without moving the 20 people in my team this is impossible and they haven’t been approached,” he added.

In 2013 a total of 13 patients received pancreas transplants.

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