CHI accepts ‘communication breakdown’ over Temple Street spinal records sought by six-year-old boy

Children’s Health Ireland senior counsel says communication less than ideal, but judge notes it was ‘non-existent’

A High Court judge has said it is astounding that the parents of a six-year-old boy caught up in the Temple Street hospital spinal surgery controversy had to come to court to seek his medical records.

Mr Justice Brian Cregan made his remarks as the chief executive of Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) Eilish Hardiman attended court.

The organisation apologised and, its lawyers said, accepted there had been a “total breakdown in communication” with the parents of Luke Byrne from Dublin.

Spring device

Luke is the last of three children to still have an alleged unauthorised spring device in his spine from his surgery at the hospital three years ago.


The court previously heard from his counsel, Karl Sweeney, instructed by Raymond Bradley of Malcomson Law, that the firm acts for a number of children who are taking action against CHI over alleged adverse effects of spinal surgery at the Dublin city hospital.

In court on Tuesday, the judge was told that CHI hopes to have Luke’s records within 48 hours. The boy’s family wants them so it can obtain a second opinion on whether to reposition or remove the spring.

The judge said it was extraordinary there had been no replies to letters from the parents requesting the medical records and they were forced to retain a solicitor who sent two letters to the chief executive.

The judge said there was no reply to the solicitor’s letters about efforts being made in the background, but “suddenly we find they are now dealing with it promptly”.

When CHI’s senior counsel, Oonah McCrann, said that communication was less than ideal, the judge said it was “non-existent”.

Rolling controversy

The judge said that two days after the solicitor’s letter went to her, Ms Hardiman appeared before an Oireachtas committee and apologised to the children and families involved in the controversy.

“While that apology was being given, the parents of a six-year-old boy with an alleged unauthorised device in his spine were asking for his medical records and not getting any reply,” said the judge.

Ms McCrann said CHI accepted there was a “total breakdown in communication”.

Counsel opened a letter to the court dated October 10th which said the hospital regrets the delay and “certain miscommunications” in regard to the provision of the records.

It said on Monday that a scanning company was contacted and requested to urgently scan Luke’s records. The hospital was informed it would be completed as a matter of urgency within 48 hours and the records are expected to be available by Thursday.

The judge adjourned the matter until Friday morning.