Call for Coombe master to resign as report finds doctor took vaccines home

Former master urges Dublin hospital chief to step down for undermining vaccine rollout

The Coombe: a former master of the hospital, Prof Chris Fitzpatrick, has called on Prof O’Connell to resign ‘in the interest of the hospital and in the public interest’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

The Coombe: a former master of the hospital, Prof Chris Fitzpatrick, has called on Prof O’Connell to resign ‘in the interest of the hospital and in the public interest’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

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The master of the Coombe in Dublin is facing pressure to resign after a review found that he allowed a consultant take leftover Covid-19 vaccines home to administer to family members.

Lawyer Brian Kennedy SC, who was asked by the Coombe’s board to investigate how leftover doses were given to 16 family members of staff on the night of January 8th, found the doctor took the two doses home from the Coombe after a conversation with the master, Prof Michael O’Connell.

Prof O’Connell told Mr Kennedy in his report published on Thursday that if the doctor was “comfortable to take the vaccine home”, then he was “not standing in their way”. The doctor said they believed the master gave his permission and would not have taken them home otherwise.

Mr Kennedy said in his report that the doctor chose to take the remaining vaccine home and to administer it to two family members after 10pm when there was no one left to vaccinate at the hospital and there was still some vaccine in the diluted vial which the medic had been using.

The doctor is identified in the report only as “Consultant B” but is understood to be Dr Carmen Regan, an obstetrician at the hospital and the wife of former Coombe master Sean Daly. Dr Regan did not respond to contacts seeking comment.

‘Very clear’ guidelines

HSE chief clinical officer Colm Henry told a briefing on Thursday that the health guidelines were “very clear” in that vaccines should be given at vaccination sites such as hospitals.

Another former master of the hospital, Prof Chris Fitzpatrick, called on Prof O’Connell to resign “in the interest of the hospital and in the public interest”.

He told The Irish Times the controversy had damaged the reputation of the hospital and undermined the national vaccination programme, and that Prof O’Connell played “a central role” in the events detailed in the independent report and “therefore must be held ultimately accountable”.

“What happened should never have happened. It has caused considerable upset both inside the hospital and outside, and will cause more upset now that the independent report has been made public and more information disclosed,” said Prof Fitzpatrick.

A spokesman for Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he was reviewing the report.

Labour leader Alan Kelly said the board of the hospital needed to make clear if it had confidence in the master. A spokeswoman for the board said it was not commenting on whether it had or not.

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