Tuesday 21 November 2017

Health Minister James Reilly slams Tallaght Hospital after damning report

Health Minister James Reilly. Photo: Frank McGrath
Health Minister James Reilly. Photo: Frank McGrath

HEALTH Minister James Reilly today slammed Tallaght Hospital after a damning report by watchdog agency HIQA.

He claimed it was "completely unacceptable" that there was no clarity as to who was providing medical supervision for emergency department patients at the hospital.

He confirmed he had put in place an oversight group within his department to ensure the recommendations about governance were implemented.

No-one was accountable for patients who were left lying on trolleys in corridors for long periods in Tallaght hospital, the watchdog had found.

An investigation also revealed patients were at risk while the state failed to hold the hospital to account for the quality and safety of services it provided.

The Health Information and Quality Authoritylaunched an inquiry into the emergency department in Tallaght last summer after a patient died on a trolley.

HIQA chief executive Tracey Cooper said the investigation found a history of long-standing challenges in leadership, governance, performance and management at board and executive level of the hospital. There was also a failure of the state to hold the hospital effectively to account for the quality and safety of services it provided.

"These challenges resulted in the persistent, and generally accepted, tolerance of patients lying on trolleys in corridors for long periods of time with a lack of clarity as to who was accountable for patients," she said. "This puts patients at risk, is not acceptable and should not be tolerated in any hospital in Ireland."

HIQA launched its first investigation into safety standards at a hospital emergency department amid concerns over care provided to patients and "a patient safety incident". The A&E department regularly had a high number of patients on trolleys waiting for admission to wards.

A coroner warned that Tallaght hospital sounded like a "very dangerous" place after a 65-year-old man died in a "virtual ward" - a name given to corridors and alcoves where patients are left while awaiting a bed in a ward. HIQA made 76 recommendations to improve standards in Tallaght and other hospitals nationally.

Health Minister James Reilly sympathised with the family of the man - Thomas Walsh - whose death on a trolley on the corridor sparked the inquiry. The corridor was the main thoroughfare for x-ray patients and had insufficient privacy or dignity.

"We must never forget that this report is first and foremost about patient safety and that it all began because of the death of a patient on a trolley in a corridor adjacent to the emergency department," said Mr Reilly.

"I know that the loved ones involved will find this traumatic and that patients in all of our acute hospitals need the assurance that this matter is being dealt with in an effective way, that lessons have been learned and that quality assurance systems are being put in place across the country."

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