Hanly report 'fundamentally flawed', claim opponents


The Hanly report on hospital reform is fundamentally flawed, anti-rural and impossible to implement within the timeframe allowed, according to a group of doctors who have joined together to voice their opposition to it.

A number of independent TDs, some of whom who are also doctors, attended a briefing along with Senator Kathleen O'Meara, who is vice chairperson of the Nenagh Hospital Action Grouup, and Dr Christine O'Malley, chairwoman of the consultants' committee of the Irish Medical Organisation, in Dublin today.

Mr Liam Twomey, an independent TD for Wexford and a general practitioner, said a lot of what was in the Hanly report would not affect people in Dublin or Cork but would have a detrimental effect on other regions.

He said he believed it was now appropriate to focus not just on the report itself, but on the "major weaknesses and gross inequalities" that had been shown up in the health service as a result of the report.

He said he and his colleagues felt manpower in the area of general practice would reach "crisis point" just as the Hanly report was to be implemented.  Mr Twomey said those campaigning against the report were "not just playing parish-pump politics" but they did not want Hanly to take on "some sort of golden grail credibility".

Dr O'Malley said she believed the Hanly consultants had not listened to recommendations made by herself and her colleagues during the consultancy process and that they "didn't get it".

She said the closure of the acute services in Nenagh hospital would be a problem down the line for Limerick hospital and she hoped people in Limerick would "wake up" and realise this.

She claimed that under Hanly, every hospital would be a large hospital and that every "patient episode" would cost twice as much as it currently does in a small hospital.  She said Hanly was "intellectually dishonest" in its claims that 90 per cent of the medical profession supported it.  "I must be one of the 10 per cent and I keep meeting that 10 per cent wherever I go who do not agree with the consultation process and what the document produced," she said.

The doctors said the report was "anti-rural" and that it went against models that had been successfully been adopted for health reform in places such as Britain and Canada.  They said the elderly and the poor would suffer most if its proposals were implemented.

Dr John Barton of Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, said Hanly was "fundamentally wrong in its concepts", particularly for rural Ireland and that those who would be most adversely affected by its implications were the elderly and the poor.  He said that if quality hospital care could be provided in smaller hospitals then this was the route that should be taken.

"It's a national issue.  It's not a local issue. It's not mad people in a local area getting upset because their local hospital is going to be closed," he said.  Dr Barton said that in Britain, the authorities had decided that the way to go was to "consult with people".  He added that there was no additional funding being made available for the implementation of the Hanly reforms.

Dr Jerry Cowley, an independent TD for Mayo, said Hanly would be good for Dublin, Cork and Galway, but for anywhere else, it would be a problem.  He suggested the implementation of the report would be "downright dangerous" because it ignored the "golden hour" during which it was crucial for someone with an acute condition to have treatment.

Mr Paudge Connolly, an independent TD for Cavan-Monaghan who ran on a platform of opposition to the downgrading of Monaghan hospital, said that closure of units there had "given us roadside deaths and also given us roadside births and we are going to have more of them".

Senator Kathleen O'Meara said the Nenagh Hospital Action Group was expecting a "massive turnout" for a rally organised to protest against the Hanly proposals this Saturday.

The Minister for Defence, Mr Smith, who as a TD for the area caused controversy when he spoke out recently against Hanly, has not yet stated whether he will attend the event.