Wednesday 29 January 2020

Time to lift veil on HSE secrecy

WAY back in the dimly remembered days of boom and optimism, shortly after taking charge of 'Angola', as the health service had been dubbed by one Brian Cowen, Professor Brendan Drumm warned that it would take a long, long time to solve the problems.

The hope was that the new Health Service Executive would succeed where a proliferation of old, bureaucratic health boards had failed.

Instead, according to the Ombudsman yesterday, the HSE has deteriorated into a rotten, secretive monolith that operates according the laws of some parallel universe. Sounding angry and bitter, Emily O'Reilly accused HSE staff of at times acting in their own interests, rather than in the public's interest, and attempting to suppress reports and hide the truth.

A list of complaints outlined by the Ombudsman is reported today. They are indeed, "shocking and unacceptable" as she described them.

They include a woman who was denied pain relief while giving birth in Waterford Regional Hospital when a midwife failed to recognise that she was in labour; a Wexford respite patient who developed bruises having been confined to bed because no chair could be found; and the "abysmal" care of a cancer patient in Beaumont Hospital.

Most alarming of all are the suggestions of cover-up and secrecy.

Predictably, the HSE has rejected the Ombudsman's complaints by declaring a duty of confidentiality to individuals, an excuse that has been employed to shameful effect elsewhere.

Predictably, the Minister for Health has promised to look into it.

It is all so predictably depressing.

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