Sunday 19 November 2017

Patients' personal files discovered dumped in bog

John Fallon

An investigation has been launched after patient documents from a hospital were found dumped in a bog.

It is the latest embarrassment for the Health Service Executive following the discovery of patients' medical records dumped in Mayo and Roscommon in recent weeks.

In the latest incident, documents from Sligo General Hospital were found by litter wardens who were cleaning up waste at a notorious dumping ground outside the village of Abbeyknockmoy in north Co Galway.

The chairman of the HSE West Forum, Galway councillor Padraig Conneely, has called for a full investigation into the procedures used by hospitals to dispose of medical records in this country.

The HSE said yesterday a full inquiry had been launched into the matter.

The office of the Data Protection Commissioner said that the documents did not contain personal information.


However, a county councillor in Abbeyknockmoy who saw some of the documents found by the litter wardens on Wednesday said that names were visible on the partially shredded papers.

"An attempt had been made to shred the documents but the names were identifiable. It's very upsetting," said Fine Gael councillor Peter Roche.

The documents were discovered in a black refuse sack on the side of a bog road yesterday outside Abbeyknockmoy, about 10km from Tuam, and were handed over to the HSE before being taken to Sligo.

The HSE West said that they contained "general stationery and clinical documentation" and that the papers had been shredded by a commercial waste company.

Central to the HSE investigation will be how the documents from the hospital in Sligo ended up dumped in a bog 125km away.

Last week patient documents from St Joseph's Hospital in Ballina were discovered dumped on a street in the north Co Mayo town. And a fortnight ago medical records from the Midlands Hospital in Mullingar were found in the grounds of Roscommon General Hospital.

Mr Conneely said that the discovery of the documents was 'disgraceful' and that procedures needed to be changed immediately.

"It is deeply upsetting for people and it is clear this is not an isolated incident. Indeed, it is just the latest in a disgraceful level of ineptitude and you just fear what will turn up next."

Irish Independent

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