Kerry hospital manager defends size of radiology team

Grimes rejects claims of ‘astonishing’ burden on one clinician after review of scans ordered

Concerns regarding some scans at University Hospital Kerry emerged after complaints were made by a number of GPs and consultants. File photograph:  Thinkstock

Concerns regarding some scans at University Hospital Kerry emerged after complaints were made by a number of GPs and consultants. File photograph: Thinkstock

 

The manager of University Hospital Kerry has defended the size of the radiology team at the hospital.

Speaking at an emergency meeting for public representatives, Fergal Grimes said the five-member radiology team was commensurate with the size of the hospital.

Though rejecting suggestions the radiologist at the centre of a review of scans there was overworked, he said some work from the radiology department was being outsourced “to release pressure” on the department.

If there are concerns regarding the workload on individuals, that would be addressed as part of the review, Mr Grimes said.

Concerns regarding some scans at the hospital emerged after complaints were made by a number of GPs and consultants. This led to a review, at the end of October, into more than 46,000 scans, X-rays and ultrasound images taken over a 16-month period, involving more than 26,700 patients. More than 28,000 images still need to be reviewed.

Speaking at the meeting for public representatives, which a hospital management and HSE senior officials attended, Kerry TD Brendan Griffin said the workload attributed to the consultant radiologist at the centre of the review seemed “unrealistic”.

Councillors and TDs agreed the workload was “astonishing”.

Initially, the seven senior HSE personnel and hospital management team insisted the issue was wholly related to “competence” of one individual.

However, Cllr Aoife Thornton (Fine Gael) said she could not accept that analysis.

“I am not convinced it is about competence. I am not satisfied it’s competency, that it is not workload,” she said.

Other representatives warned the HSE officials against scapegoating an individual .

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae said he was insisting on getting the figures for the whole of the radiology department.

“How proportionate was this workload? How much were the other five doing? Was this person over-burdened?” he asked.

“The amount of images or scans this person dealt with is massive!”

‘Terrified’

Mr Healy-Rae said confidence in the hospital had diminished and the hospital should have written to the 26,000 patients.

“Some of these people are terrified now and that is deplorable,” he said.

Referring to an increase in initial figures of misdiagnosis, Cllr John Joe Culloty (Fianna Fáil) said he was disappointed to learn “where there are three this morning, there are now seven” serious cases.

There was strong criticism of the HSE for failing to reveal the review, but the meeting was told that was HSE policy. Health forum member, Cllr Brendan Cronin, told them they had made “a hames” of it.

More than 100 patients had contacted the helpline 1800-742-900 by lunchtime. The helpline will be open from 9am to 10pm on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Earlier, local GP Dr Gary Stack of Killarney said he raised concerns about a small number of X-rays earlier in the year. There was nothing major, but the reports back raised the practice’s concerns and they contacted the radiology department. It was only when a number of other GPs and consultants also raised concerns that alarm bells went off, he said.