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Tuesday 17 October 2017

Two-week deadline for X-ray scandal hospital

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

THE health safety watchdog has given Tallaght Hospital two weeks to produce a report outlining the ways it will improve its management practices and patient care.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) also warned the hospital it must come clean on any issues of serious concern about the quality and safety of services.

HIQA announced it was to set up a national review to examine how GP letters seeking hospital appointments were dealt with across the country.

It wants to establish what arrangements are in place in hospitals nationwide so it can make recommendations for a consistent system, which will reduce the chances of letters remaining unread, getting lost or facing delays.

HIQA was responding to the scandal that saw a backlog of 58,000 patient X-rays in Tallaght left unread by radiologists.

Backlog

It also emerged that some 3,500 GP referral letters had not been dealt with -- for up to seven years in some cases.

The watchdog first asked the hospital in June of last year to outline the extent of the backlog.

However, the hospital failed to respond to letters on several occasions up to December when the real extent of the X-ray backlog came to light.

The watchdog has already conceded that it should have taken a tougher line with the hospital and said it needed greater legal powers.

An independent review of the failures in relation to X-rays and referral letters is to be held and will be chaired by former senator Maurice Hayes. He is to outline his team's approach to the probe today.

HIQA chief executive Tracey Cooper last night said the watchdog was demanding that Tallaght Hospital set up a central monitoring function for all serious patient adverse events, complaints, claims and key performance indicators. These should be available to HIQA "as required", Ms Cooper said.

The watchdog also said it had scheduled regular performance-monitoring meetings with the hospital to assess evidence of progress in improving its management and also to assess how the hospital was tackling the backlog of X-rays and unprocessed GP referral letters.

"Consequently, the authority will closely monitor both the hospital and the HSE against their stipulated actions," Ms Cooper said.

Irish Independent

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