Dutch hospital chief apologises to Cluskey for ‘scapegoat’ remark

Widower of Adrienne Cullen called for chief to resign over his wife’s death

Adrienne Cullen: Report described Ms Cullen’s treatment at UMC Utrecht as a ‘calamity’.

Adrienne Cullen: Report described Ms Cullen’s treatment at UMC Utrecht as a ‘calamity’.


The head of a Dutch hospital that missed Irishwoman Adrienne Cullen’s cancer and resisted the investigation of her case for several years has apologised for remarks made about her husband.

Prof Margriet Schneider, the chief executive of UMC Utrecht, was interviewed by The Irish Times on Tuesday, after a report found multiple failings in the care provided by her hospital to Ms Cullen.

The Irishwoman died last December of cervical cancer, which was diagnosed two years late due to a series of errors in the hospital. She had campaigned vigorously for greater transparency in Dutch medicine and resisted settling her case against the hospital until a gagging clause was removed.

Asked about a call by Ms Cullen’s husband, Peter Cluskey, for her to resign, Prof Schneider said she understood Mr Cluskey’s “anger” and his desire to “scapegoat me”.

Mr Cluskey questioned the appropriateness of the comment “in relation to the widower of a woman whose death was caused by your hospital just a matter of months ago”. He also sought an apology.

On Wednesday, Prof Schneider replied by offering her “deepest and sincerest apologies” in an email to Mr Cluskey.

“It was very unfortunate that I used the words ‘scapegoating me’, being a non-native English speaker. What I tried to say was that I understand that you hold people responsible and more specific the CEO of the hospital, being me.”

Describing Ms Cullen’s treatment as a “calamity”, the report found that due to “a diverse series of human errors, failures in communication and the organisation of the care, crucial pathology results were missed”. Her smear test was also misread.