Doctor says he was asked to drop inquest evidence

Tallaght hospital whistleblower Dr James Gray claims he was put under pressure

Dr James Gray of Tallaght Hospital. File photograph: Collins

A whistleblowing doctor at Tallaght hospital says he was put under pressure to drop giving key evidence to an inquest into the death of a patient at the hospital.

Dr James Gray, the emergency medicine consultant who revealed earlier this week that a 91-year-old spent 29 hours on a trolley in the hospital, claimed the incident was intimidatory and designed to stop him speaking out publicly about overcrowding.

Dr Gray was involved in the treatment of Thomas Walsh (65), who died in 2011 after spending hours on a trolley in a corridor in the hospital.

He was called to give evidence to the inquest, and prepared a formal statement and an opinion stating his view of Mr Walsh’s care.


Before the inquest, he received a call from a lawyer acting for the State Claims Agency, which handles medical negligence claims against hospitals.

The lawyer asked him to not to submit his opinion, in its entirety. Dr Gray claimed to The Irish Times: “I felt pressurised because of that, but I refused to agree to it. It could have changed the course of the inquest as the opinion piece may not have been elaborated verbally.”

The agency said it was fully satisfied it and its legal advisers acted appropriately at all times.

Before the inquest, the agency lawyer asked the coroner to disallow his opinion, but this was refused, Dr Gray said.

Open verdict

The inquest in June 2011 returned an open verdict. In his evidence, Dr Gray criticised “appallingly poor levels of sanitation” and said it was “unacceptable” Mr Walsh had to wait almost six hours on a trolley.

His evidence prompted the coroner to remark that Tallaght “sounds like a very dangerous place” and sparked a landmark statutory inquiry by the Health Information and Quality Authority.

The agency said it had no issue with Dr Gray presenting a deposition statement at the inquest.

“However, the agency felt it would be highly inappropriate and unusual for a factual witness connected to the case to present a medical opinion.

“Normal practice is for medical opinions to be prepared and presented by individuals who do not have a direct connection to the case.”

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.