Hospital bosses 'are hindering' children's surgery
MANAGEMENT at two of the country's best-known children's hospitals have been accused of "professional negligence" for not cooperating on speeding up operations for children.
The head of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) said he could reduce the number of children waiting for surgical operations at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin if there was a better level of cooperation.
"We're not happy with the level of engagement Crumlin hospital has with the NTPF. It's patchy, to say the least," chief executive Pat O'Byrne said.
There are 230 children who have been waiting more than 12 months for surgery, with 188 of these attending Crumlin hospital or Temple Street hospital.
There are also 1,174 children who have been waiting between six and 12 months, and a further 1,340 children waiting three to six months for surgery.
At the Dail's Public Accounts Committee meeting yesterday, Fianna Fail Cork South Central TD Michael McGrath said it was an "absolute scandal" that management at Crumlin and Temple Street children's hospitals were not working properly with the NTPF.
"What we are dealing with here is professional negligence on behalf of hospital management who are not cooperating fully with the NTPF," he said.
The NTPF has a €90m budget to help public patients who have been waiting longest for surgery to be treated elsewhere -- usually in private hospitals.
Mr O'Byrne said many of the children attending Crumlin and Temple Street hospitals were waiting for surgical day procedures, and they could be treated within weeks by the NTPF.
"I'm not saying for one minute we can deal with every problem. But we can deal with a number of those problems," he said.
Mr O'Byrne named Crumlin as one of the four hospitals in the country with which the NTPF was not satisfied because of its long waiting lists.
The others were Temple Street Children's Hospital; Tallaght hospital; and, "to a lesser extent", Tullamore hospital, which is in Taoiseach Brian Cowen's constituency.
In a statement, Crumlin hospital said it rejected any claim it was not cooperating with the NTPF. It said the NTPF imposed a limit of 450 patient treatment slots for the hospital last year -- and all 450 slots had been used.
"Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, remains fully committed to working with the NTPF. The hospital is working with the HSE and NTPF to assist in reducing waiting lists for 2010," the statement said.
Temple Street hospital said it fully cooperated with the NTPF. It said it had been limited to 200 patient referrals and had used this quota. The Adelaide and Meath (Tallaght) Hospital also released a statement saying it had an "excellent relationship" with the NTPF and had met its quota last year.
"In two quarters, the hospital was stopped from referring any further patients as it would have resulted in the hospital exceeding its quota," it said.