Sunday 17 December 2017

HSE chief Tony O’Brien apologises for memo referring to patients as 'trespassers'

HSE chief Tony O’Brien. Photo: Damien Eagers
HSE chief Tony O’Brien. Photo: Damien Eagers

Eilish O’Regan

HSE chief Tony O’Brien has apologised for an internal memo which referred to patients as trespassers and said minimum force could be used to remove them.

Mr O Brien who was appearing before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children was tackled on the memo which set out the legal rights of hospitals when patients who no longer need acute care will not leave even after supports have been put in place for them.

He said the memo was legal advice, prompted after a case in a particular hospital in 2012 where the patient refused to vacate their bed.

He said this happens on rare occasions.

He told the committee the reference to minimum force set out the legal situation but “physical force would not be used to remove patients from wards.”

Mr O Brien said the memo should not have been distributed as widely as it was.

It was not HSE policy and he apologised for the concerns it raised.

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