Clergy no longer given hospital admission lists


HOSPITAL ADMISSION lists are no longer being made available to members of the clergy seeking to check if their parishioners are in hospital.

The long-standing practice of allowing priests to check admissions has been stopped by recent data protection legislation.

“Generally the priests regret that the list isn’t available for practical reasons,” said Fr Brendan Hoban of the Association of Catholic Priests.

The new legislation could lead to situations where priests visiting parishioners might be oblivious to the fact that other parishioners were also in the hospital, he said.

“The other side of it – nowadays people tend to be taken to hospital and released from hospital very quickly,” he said. “It just makes the practice difficult for priests visiting hospitals.”

Tullamore Midland Regional Hospital chaplain the Rev Gerald Field said the legislation allowed patients a level of privacy.

“It puts the onus on the family that if they want their rector or parish priest to come in, they let them know,” he said. As chaplain, he has access to all Church of Ireland patients.

He would only share the information with the patient’s rector with the consent of the patient’s family.

The Health Service Executive says it is restricted from passing on sensitive information to third parties.

“Any priest or clergyman who wishes to visit a patient may do so and the HSE will do what it can to facilitate meetings between patients and their spiritual advisers.

“However, the HSE cannot release sensitive personal information to any person in breach of the provisions of the data protection legislation,” it said.