Consultant who did research on women patients without informing them goes to court to stop his dismissal

Prof Ray O’Sullivan said HSE sought to dismiss him from ‘moment it learned of my error of judgement’

Obstetrician and gynaecologist Prof Ray O’Sullivan was on Monday granted leave by the High Court to mount a legal challenge to the proposal by the HSE to remove him from his position at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny.

Obstetrician and gynaecologist Prof Ray O’Sullivan was on Monday granted leave by the High Court to mount a legal challenge to the proposal by the HSE to remove him from his position at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny.

 

A consultant at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, who carried out research on five women patients during routine gynaecological procedures has gone to court in a bid to stop his dismissal.

Obstetrician and gynaecologist Prof Ray O’Sullivan was on Monday granted leave by the High Court to mount a legal challenge to the proposal by the HSE to remove him from his position.

Professor O’Sullivan who was described in court by his counsel Eoin Clifford SC as outspoken in relation to patient rights and particularly the rights of pregnant women has been a consultant obstetrician gynaecologist at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny since 2006.

In his proceedings against the HSE he is seeking an order quashing the decision made by it to propose he be removed from his employment. Prof O’Sullivan was told in a letter at the end of last month of the intention to propose his dismissal.

He is also seeking an order restraining the HSE from taking any further steps in the disciplinary process which started in July 2019 and an order directing the HSE to terminate his suspension and that he be immediately reinstated.

Granting leave to bring the judicial review, Mr Justice Charles Meenan listed the case for March 24th next as he said it was a very serious matter for the parties involved.

In an affidavit grounding his application, Prof O’Sullivan referred to procedures of September 4th and 5th, 2018 in which a small pressure pad measuring 10mm by 10mm was placed inside the entrance of the vaginas of the five patients.

Should have informed patients

He said it is accepted by him in hindsight that he should have informed the patients that he was monitoring the pressure of the sterile water solution in the vaginas during the routine procedure and that he may or may not have used this information subsequently to make a research application.

He said at no time during the procedures was there any risk to the patients health over and above the standard risks and side effects which had been explained to each patient.

An expert report on the matter concluded in December 2019 that Prof O’Sullivan’s overall conduct had fallen below, but not seriously below the standard of conduct expected among doctors.

In his affidavit, Prof O’Sullivan said the HSE has sought to dismiss him “from the moment it learned of my error of judgement” and he alleged the process to date “has been tainted by bias.”

Prof O’Sullivan has also claimed that in the course of his work at the Kilkenny hospital he has on a number of occasions taken issue with the manner in which the hospital was being managed and has spoken publicly regarding the lack of beds for women in the hospital. He said he has been critical of the HSE for making cutbacks to the maternity unit at St Luke’s Hospital.