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Tallaght Hospital scandal: No need for accountability


Public Inquiry · Examining corruption in Ireland

I wrote recently about the missing link that marks the difference between how things are done in Ireland and how they’re done in functional democracies.

When suspicions of corruption are raised in functional jurisdictions there usually follows an investigation by an independent authority.

If the suspicions are confirmed consequences follow such as sackings, heavy fines or perhaps a trial followed by appropriate punishment.

All this is done under the principle of justice being seen to be done and the whole matter is usually followed up with new rules/regulations to prevent such events from happening again.

All these stages of accountability are also carried out in Ireland with the notable exception of holding anybody to account.

The recent scandal at Tallaght Hospital, as reported in the Irish Examiner, is a great example.

Background:

The hospital is unable to explain why five senior officials received almost €700,000 in non-salary ‘top-up’ fees between 2005 and 2010.

Ernst and Young carried out a financial investigation last year as a result of concerns raised by the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA).

The investigation found:

The hospital was unable to provide any documents showing why the large payments were made.

The hospital was unable to explain why the supplementary payroll, under which the payments were made, was set up or what approval procedures were followed.

Board members at the time provided inconsistent recollections as to the existence and approval of the fund.

One individual received €225,833 in extra pay. Four other staff members received €104.667, €61,250, €24,000 and 259.000 respectively.

This was all taxpayer’s money at a time when Tallaght Hospital was making severe cutbacks to its budget.

We have now reached the critical point where, in a functional democracy, stronger action would ensue – police investigation, courts etc.

In Ireland this stage is skipped completely and replaced by an excuse stage.

Significant management structure changes have been carried out at the hospital – we’re told.

The new management has ‘noted’ the findings of the investigation.

The external payroll system responsible for the payouts has been abolished.

The new board has appointed a new remuneration and terms of services committee.

The new board said they were disturbed and upset by what happened.

So, no further action, no police, no investigation, no courts.

And, we can ask, is the new board a genuine improvement on its predecessor. Will this ‘new broom’ sweep all the old habits away and act in a professional and responsible manner when it comes to accountability?

No, is the emphatic answer.

When asked if the five members at the centre of the scandal were still working at the hospital and whether any of the paid out money can be retrieved they declined to comment.

Or, in plain English – Take a hike, we’re saying nothing.

The only reason, I suspect, the board of Tallaght Hospital can feel confident in refusing to answer this most basic of questions is because of the missing link in Irish accountability.

It there’s no system of accountability – there’s no need to be accountable.

via Public Inquiry · Examining corruption in Ireland.

via Public Inquiry · Examining corruption in Ireland.

Working conditions in hospitals are so bad that sometimes I get no sleep at all


Tallaght-Hospital-protest-525-390x285

I WOULDN’T SAY there’s been a single week since I’ve started working about a year and a half ago in the hospital that I’ve only had to work 48 hours a week – as the 2004 EU Working Time Directive instructs.

It can be anything up to over 100 hours a week. There was a couple of hours where I was working over Christmas where I was on call three times a week and you’d have to work the next day post-call as well.

Generally you wouldn’t get any sleep, or you might get one or two hours. You could end up working anything up to 36 hours in a row.

Thirty-six hours would be a record. But once a week you’d generally have to work 32 hours in a row.

It’s a killer. Adrenaline tends to get you through the first 20 hours. You start to feel the burn at around 4am. You focus then on the ward for a few hours, you make your way through it, you’re generally okay that night, but then the next day is really exhausting.

Is this government committed to media diversity?

 

via Column: Working conditions in hospitals are so bad that sometimes I get no sleep at all.

via Column: Working conditions in hospitals are so bad that sometimes I get no sleep at all.

12,000 admissions to hospitals are cancelled


Nearly 12,000 patients have had their admission to hospital for treatments such as surgery cancelled between March and September this year.

Although there is a range of reasons for this, the most common problem is that the bed the patient due admission was going to be placed in had to be given to a patient who came through the hospital emergency department.

A lack of intensive care beds can also lead to cancellations because they are already occupied, leaving patients who will need to be admitted after surgery, waiting longer for their operation.

The cancellation can cause major upset and inconvenience as well as being very disruptive for someone who badly needs to have an operation or test.

The figures, supplied by the HSE, reveal that hospitals with the most overcrowded and busy emergency departments also had the biggest number of cancellations.

They include St James’s Hospital (5,289), Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children Crumlin (2,432), Beaumont Hospital(2,165), Cork University Hospital (1,228) and Tallaght Hospital (889).

via 12,000 admissions to hospitals are cancelled – Health News, Health – Independent.ie.

via 12,000 admissions to hospitals are cancelled – Health News, Health – Independent.ie.

 

Irish start-up company develops ‘groundbreaking’ cancer treatment


AN IRISH MEDICAL device company, MitaMed, has developed a groundbreaking treatment for gastrointestinal and lung cancers.

It said that treatment of patients with colorectal cancer has just commenced in an Irish Medicines Board-approved clinical trial in Cork and Dublin hospitals, under the supervision of Dr Deirdre McNamara, Tallaght Hospital (AMNCH).

MitaMed has also established strategic partnerships with five specialist Cancer Centre of Excellence hospitals in Europe, including Trinity Health (Tallaght/ St James), Mercy Hospital, Cork, and hospitals in the UK and Sweden.

Chief Executive Officer of Mitamed, Michael Loftus, has also announced the commencement of an investment process to raise €3 million to support the development, regulatory approval and commercial sales of their therapy.

He said:

With projected sales of €14 million in five years, MitaMed is on track to successfully deliver a new standard of care for cancer patients, with better outcomes and reduced financial burden.

Approach

MitaMed’s cancer treatment involves delivering brief electric pulses directly to the tumour tissue. It says this causes the cancer cells within the electric field to become temporarily permeable and enables subsequent drug absorption.

This phenomenon is known as electroporation and allows for the targeted absorption of a smaller dose of chemotherapy drugs into cancer cells without compromising surrounding healthy tissue structures.

The company noted:

As the electroporation procedure can be performed in a matter of minutes, the treatment can be conducted rapidly on an outpatient basis. A patient may require between 1 to 3 treatments over a period of a few months.

UCC leveraged over €2 million of Irish state research funding between 2006 and 2011 to support the development of the technology at the Cork Cancer Research Centre, under the leadership of Dr Declan Soden. UCC Technology Transfer Office was also involved in the project.

MitaMed has recently been named the Munster regional area winner of the high growth category in the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn competition. The final will take place on 28 November

via Irish start-up company develops ‘groundbreaking’ cancer treatment.

via Irish start-up company develops ‘groundbreaking’ cancer treatment.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny defends massive HSE budget overrun


TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has defended the €374m budget overrun in the health service by saying that reforming the “completely dysfunctional” system would take time.

He was quizzed in the Dail about the threat to frontline patient services, as the HSE tries to reduce its massive deficit by the end of the year.

Mr Kenny said the HSE was a completely dysfunctional organisation which had been formed in 2004 by squashing the former health boards together.

He said that no-one had ever said it could be sorted out in 12 months.

“What’s happening now is the start of a generational reform in the health service in this country,” he said.

Mr Kenny was speaking after the HSE confirmed that its budget overrun at the end of last month stood at €374m.

At the end of August the figure was €329m.

And Tallaght Hospital in Dublin is seeking an overdraft of €12m.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said the failure to achieve savings in the health budget had already led to further cutbacks such as one million hours of home help being “severed”.

“Are we facing similar cuts to acute hospitals? What are the implications of these overruns in terms of patient services?” he asked.

But Mr Kenny maintained that patients would still get effective treatment in hospitals, who were treating more people with fewer resources.

“When this is completed, you will have a health service that will deliver in terms of the people’s money being channelled for real effective health services for all our people,” he said.

via Taoiseach Enda Kenny defends massive HSE budget overrun – National News – Independent.ie.

via Taoiseach Enda Kenny defends massive HSE budget overrun – National News – Independent.ie.

Tallaght Hospital secures €12m overdraft from AIB – RTÉ News


Talllaght Hospital was over budget by over €10m in July

The hospital was over budget by over €10m in July.

It said it sought a letter of support from the Health Service Executive for the overdraft from AIB.

In a statement tonight, the hospital said it was managing its finances prudently and had made savings of 6% in its budget this year, despite a 5% increase in in-patient care.

Tallaght is one of around five major hospitals that are heavily over budget and last year it was over budget by over €14m.

The Government has said there will be no supplementary health budget to assist health overruns.

The HSE said tonight that under Service Level Agreements (SLAs) these hospitals are permitted to seek an overdraft up to 7% of their budget for the final quarter of the year.

Other hospitals that have exceeded their budgets are Beaumont, Limerick Regional, Galway University Hospital and Cork University Hospital.

via Tallaght Hospital secures €12m overdraft from AIB – RTÉ News.

via Tallaght Hospital secures €12m overdraft from AIB – RTÉ News.

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