Minister warns hospitals to vet all their staff
Hospitals have a responsibility to ensure that all health staff are properly vetted and current regulations are enforced, Health Minister Simon Harris has said.
He signalled he also wants to see the vetting of staff widened across other healthcare areas, including counselling, psychotherapy and pregnancy counselling.
The minister stressed that he was speaking generally and would not comment on the allegations that a 61-year-old female patient was raped in hospital after undergoing a diagnostic scan.
A hospital worker who is accused of raping the woman is understood to have admitted having sex with the woman but claimed that it was consensual.
The married man, who left the country with his wife and child last week, was directly employed by a company contracted to carry out diagnostic scans at the Bons Secours Hospital in Tralee, Co Kerry.
The attack is alleged to have taken place on Saturday, September 10, after the patient had undergone an MRI scan and went into a room to change back into her clothes.
The health worker told gardaí they had consensual sex.
It is understood that the man was due to report to the garda station late last week but after he failed to turn up it was found that he had left the country on Wednesday.
Bill Maher, chief executive of the Bons Secours Health System, said yesterday that the worker was not employed directly by the hospital but by a private diagnostics company that carries out scans on site.
He said he could not comment on the alleged incident but would receive a report from the diagnostics company this week. He added: "Once that is completed, we will see what actions we have to take."
A spokeswoman for the diagnostics company said the accused had been on its staff since 2009.
"We wish to alleviate the concerns of patients and the public by making clear that the individual involved is no longer an employee and is no longer working at the hospital."
She said a full internal investigation was under way into the alleged incident and that the current employee-vetting process had been introduced by the company in 2013 .
It includes a garda report and two employment references from previous employers.
The employee in question had been subject to two vetting processes. Asked about the whereabouts of the accused now, she said she didn't know.