Lenihan calls for shake-up at Tallaght hospital


REACTION:A FIANNA Fáil Minister has called for a major shake-up in the management structure at Tallaght hospital following the X-ray controversy, while Taoiseach Brian Cowen strongly defended Minister for Health Mary Harney in the Dáil.

Minister of State Conor Lenihan, who represents the Tallaght area, described the revelation that almost 58,000 X-rays were not reviewed by a consultant radiologist in a four-year period up to September 2009 as “shocking”.

He said it was time that Tallaght Hospital implemented a consultant’s report which set out a series of much-needed reforms.

“The board of the hospital that is in place at the moment is not appropriate. The 22-strong board must be reduced in size by at least 10 members,” Mr Lenihan said.

“I am also calling for an immediate management review at the hospital. This is essential to restore the public confidence that has been damaged by this matter.

“The community in Tallaght and people across the country are rightly shocked by what has happened at Tallaght Hospital. I support the investigation that the HSE has initiated and want to see that completed as soon as possible,” he added.

Mr Lenihan urged the chief executive-designate at Tallaght Hospital to use any means necessary to conclude the review of X-rays as soon as is possible.

Ms Harney, who is on a two-week official visit to New Zealand, said yesterday that there was no such thing as a hospital free of error. “If a radiologist doesn’t report on X-rays in a hospital you cannot seriously believe that that is a matter that the Minister has direct personal responsibility for,” she told Morning Ireland.

Ms Harney is being accompanied to New Zealand by her husband, Brian Geoghegan, who, according to a spokesman for the Minister, “is travelling with the official delegation in accordance with the agreed procedures”.

The Minister is also accompanied by her special adviser Patricia Ryan; her private secretary, Darragh Scully; and the deputy chief medical officer at the Department, Dr Philip Crowley.

They arrived in Auckland last Monday, March 8th, and after visits to Wellington and Christchurch will depart from Auckland on March 21st.

During the trip the Minister and her party will visit a number of hospitals and medical facilities as well as attending functions designed to promote trade and jobs. On Saturday, Ms Harney will participate in the St Patrick’s Day parade in Auckland and will attend a banquet that night at which the prime minister of New Zealand, John Key, will be the guest of honour.

In the Dáil yesterday the Taoiseach defended Ms Harney against criticism from Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore, who called for her to be dropped from the Cabinet.

“I am not going to go down that road other than to say the Minister, Deputy Harney, has my confidence. She has been a reforming Minister for Health and Children and has brought about more changes for the reform of the health sector than any of her predecessors,” he told Mr Gilmore.

“She has been absolutely committed to bringing forward quality assurance mechanisms in the system so that we have accountability and can deal with any issues that arise,” the Taoiseach added.

In a modern health system hundreds of thousands of clinical decisions were made every year and nowhere in the world was such a system error free. “We must make sure that we identify where errors arise, that we mitigate the problem and that we try to eliminate risks,” he said.

Last night, the Fine Gael spokesman on Health Dr James Reilly called for Ms Harney’s resignation. “This is one scandal too many for this Minister. She has to go. If she is still in position after this I will be asking my party to put down a motion of no confidence in her,” he said.