Beaumont ‘may face charges’ over closure of transplant programme

Patients suffering due to lack of pancreas transplants at hospital, says David Hickey

Beaumont Hospital and the Health Service Executive could find themselves facing corporate manslaughter charges over the closure of the pancreas transplant programme in the hospital, a meeting of patients has been told.

Patients on the waiting list for a transplant are dying because of the failure of the hospital to carry out any pancreas transplants since the beginning of this year, according to retired surgeon David Hickey.

Mr Hickey performed all 118 pancreas transplants done so far in Ireland but this work has ceased since his retirement and Beaumont says it will be transferred to St Vincent’s Hospital.

In addition, the hospital has told post-transplant patients, who are at high risk of infection, they must go to overcrowded emergency departments for urgent care following the decision to close a specialised outpatient clinic.


With the closure of the clinic, more than 80 patients have been told to go to local hospitals for regular care, but they fear this service will be inferior to that provided in Beaumont.

More than 50 people attended the meeting in Liberty Hall, which was organised by three patients who have had transplants.

‘In limbo’

Fiona Burke, a double transplant recipient from Annaghdown, Co Galway, said Beaumont had left patients "in limbo" though its actions.

Ms Burke said she hadn’t looked back a single day since receiving new kidneys and a pancreas transplanted by Mr Hickey. She got married in 2002 and later gave birth to a boy, Jake, who is now a six-year-old and “full of life”.

“Everything was going well until last Friday, when I was told the outpatient clinic in Beaumont was closing and I should access services in Galway. We had a wonderful team in Beaumont but this was like a loss in the family. We have to fight to get it back,” she told the meeting.

“A couple of managers in Beaumont flicked a switch, ticked a box and saved the hospital a few hundred thousand euro a year,” Mr Hickey commented.

Mark Murphy, chief executive of the Irish Kidney Association (IKA), said he had never seen a group of patients being "let go" by a hospital as transplant patients had been since January.

“You’ve been thrown to the wolves,” he told the meeting.

Mr Murphy expressed doubt about official figures indicating there are just 11 patients on the waiting list for a transplant, eight for a kidney/pancreas and three for a pancreas alone.

Mr Hickey said transplant patients in Beaumont were treated in a Portacabin, with a view of a toilet through the window. “Amnesty International would have it closed down as a prison if it could,” he said.

Beaumont declined an invitation to attend the meeting, saying direct communication with transplant patients and engagement with their representative body, the Irish Kidney Association, was the most appropriate way to deal with the issues.


A number of speakers at the meeting were critical of the association for not advocating more strongly on the issue.

“There has been nothing from the IKA other than woolly comments,” said Mr Hickey, who said it needed to give the hospital “a kick in the boll***s” and stop being “nice”.

Mr Hickey accused the hospital of waiting “for years and years” until he left to close down the pancreas transplant programme. He accused middle managers of “hijacking” the health system and “grinding it into the ground”.

Beaumont says it has agreed with St Vincent’s to develop a “collaborative approach” to pancreas transplants.

This will begin with joint assessment clinics in Beaumont at the end of July.

The hospital was unable to say when pancreas transplants will resume.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times