Friday 6 December 2019

‘Funds were there to get Meadhbh to UK for liver op’

Liver transplant patient Meadhbh McGivern with her parents Joe and Assumpta
Liver transplant patient Meadhbh McGivern with her parents Joe and Assumpta


Crumlin Children's Hospital has insisted it stands by its claims that money was not an issue in failed attempts to get a teenage girl to London for a liver transplant.

Medical chiefs are facing allegations that an hour-long wait to authorise a €14,500 bill for a private jet ultimately jeopardised plans to fly 14-year-old Meadhbh McGivern to London.

Crumlin Hospital declined to answer the allegation directly but reiterated that "funds have always been made available in these cases".

A spokeswoman for the hospital said management were co-operating fully with a watchdog inquiry into the scandal which left the teenager from Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, still waiting for vital transplant surgery.

She repeated what it said when the controversy first emerged: "The hospital can confirm that there is never a delay in access to transport on the basis of financial approval."

Meadhbh was offered the operation in King's College, London, on Saturday evening but four hours later plans for the life-changing surgery had to be called off due to delays securing a flight.

A catalogue of calls between several agencies and the family appeared to show a breakdown in communications among teams arranging transport.

Health minister James Reilly, who apologised to the family, has called on the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) to investigate the controversy.

The McGiverns were alerted by King's Hospital staff at 7.20pm on Saturday that a potential non-heartbeating liver was available. There was a deadline of 2am to get Meadhbh to the hospital.

At 11.23pm Mr McGivern got a call from medics as he waited to board a Coast Guard helicopter to say that the family would not make it in time.

Several agencies were involved in making arrangements for transport - the Health Service Executive (HSE), Coast Guard, Department of Transport, the Air Corps and the Emergency Medical Support Services (EMSS).

EMSS claims it had been told by Crumlin at 9pm a private jet was available but medical chiefs had to wait for the cost to be authorised.

Crumlin said it would not discuss the allegation as it would not be "best practice" with the Hiqa investigation ongoing.

Meanwhile, the Air Corps has cancelled a planned celebration of the Air Corps air ambulance role in Baldonnel. Meadhbh and her father Joe were expected to attend.

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