Staff involved in Grace case were promoted by HSE, PAC told

Tony O’Brien admits he was misled on Deloitte report which is not yet completed

Grace was left in the care of a foster family in the south-east for 20 years despite physical abuse, neglect and possible sexual abuse

Grace was left in the care of a foster family in the south-east for 20 years despite physical abuse, neglect and possible sexual abuse

 

Four of the five staff centrally involved in making decisions about the care of the intellectually disabled woman known as ‘Grace’ were later promoted, the Dáil Public Accounts Committee has heard.

Grace was left in the care of a foster family in the south-east for 20 years despite physical abuse, neglect and possible sexual abuse.

In April, the High Court approved a €6.3 million settlement for Grace and described her treatment as a scandal.

HSE director general Tony O’Brien appeared before the committee on Thursday for a fourth time answering questions about the case, after members sought further clarification about his previous answers.

Seven main and ancillary reports into the case, commissioned by the HSE, have cost €723,000 including legal costs, Mr O’Brien told the committee.

This does not include the cost of a separate report commissioned by the Department of Health and a further review commissioned by the HSE from consultants Deloitte.

Mr O’Brien, who told the committee in March that the Deloitte report was imminent, admitted today it has not been completed.

Saying he had been misled, he said the report, which was commissioned in February 2016, was in an advanced stage of completion.

He was now promised it would be ready by the end of this month.

Underfunding

Questioned by TDs about the delay in publication, Mr O’Brien said the HSE corporately had not objected to any findings in the draft but it was possible that individuals affected may have raised issues.

The report is expected to find that a service provider caring for Grace was underfunded by the HSE for her care over two decades.

The High Court has also ruled that this underfunding amounted to €600,000 between 2009 and the present.

The group has alleged it was underfunded because staff blew the whistle on the care failings in Grace’s case.

Mr O’Brien said he had no hesitation in apologising to the service provider, and by extension the whistleblowers, arising from the court’s instruction to the HSE to pay €600,000 due for past service.

He would not apologise for the alleged discrimination against the service provider as he didn’t have the facts contained in the final report.

Mr O’Brien told the hearing one member of staff, identified only as H3, was promoted in 1991 and remained on that grade until the person was transferred to Tusla.

Another staff member, H7, was promoted in 1996 and remained on that grade until retirement in 2010.

Meanwhile, H4 was promoted to the first level of a grade and remained in that role until retirement in 2009, while H6 was promoted twice before transfer to Tusla.