Healthcare could be damaged by cervical blame game

RCSI chief says: ‘I think we should be more circumspect... my fear is a hyper-response’

Irish healthcare could be damaged if there is too much focus on a blame game over the cervical cancer controversy, the chief executive of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has warned.

Irish healthcare could be damaged if there is too much focus on a blame game over the cervical cancer controversy, the chief executive of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has warned.

 

Irish healthcare could be damaged if there is too much focus on a blame game over the cervical cancer controversy, the chief executive of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has warned.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Prof Cathal Kelly said effective risk management in healthcare required a blame-free culture.

“I think no one goes into a healthcare environment not wanting to do a good day’s work. I do think we too quickly move into a blame culture. We should be more supportive of people. I think we are too quick to throw people under the bus,” he said.

“That’s not a view of any of the personalities involved . . . but I think we should be more circumspect . . . For effective risk management, we need a blame-free culture. If you have a blame and recrimination culture, you’re going to drive risk management, effective audit and improvement in services backwards.”

Prof Kelly said the goal must be to provide optimal healthcare where the patient is at the centre and where their views are fully respected.

“My fear is that in hyper-response to this, that we lose sight of the big picture – that is what’s best for Irish patients,” he said.

He also expressed concern that plans for a no-fault approach to healthcare could be “pushed backwards”.

“A legally adversarial system isn’t in patients’ best interests, or the public’s in terms of cost, and I think a system where we can do effective risk factor management is in the public’s best interest,” he said.

‘Full, frank and complete account’

Prof Kelly said women at the centre of the cervical cancer controversy, meanwhile, deserved a “full, frank and complete” account of what happened.

“This is something which hopefully we can get to the bottom of, in patients’ best interests, as quickly as possible and hopefully we can all learn from this. I hope it doesn’t become some kind of legal circus,” he added.

Hundreds of people gathered at Bishop Lucey Park in Cork on Saturday and marched to the city centre bearing placards which said “Women’s Lives Matter” in response to the controversy.

One of those behind the protest, Lisa Ryan Bermingham, said women impacted by the issue were showing tremendous courage in the face of horrific trauma. She said she was furious at the extent of the scandal.

“They [the HSE] took our lives for granted at the end of the day. We are not just standing up for women around today. We are standing up for future generations,” she said. “Can you trust [the Government] with anything? We want to keep it in the limelight even if we have to protest every month. We need the people to support us. We have to be in this for the long haul.”