Minister’s ‘shame’ at treatment

The Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar last week told a government health committee that he was ashamed of his own and other medical professionals due to the treatment of patients in Portlaoise Hospital.

The Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar last week told a government health committee that he was ashamed of his own and other medical professionals due to the treatment of patients in Portlaoise Hospital.

“I am ashamed at the manner in which patients were treated without respect, care and compassion when they most needed it by members of my own profession and other professions,” he said.

The Minister said that for too long the health service had been defensive in dealing with complaints and had a failed to deal with them in a timely manner.

He said the establishment of an independent patient advocacy service would be crucial to changing that culture and supporting patients.

Minister Varadkar said that there was ‘more space for midwife-led care and midwife-led units, home births and for the domino system which means mothers go home early from hospital.’

This combined with a falling birth rate would require fewer hospital units.

While the Director General of the HSE, Tony O’Brien, told the health committee that any failings relating to the past either have now been, or are being, rectified and that Portlaoise is now on a path to being an excellent hospital as part of a wider group.

Mr O’Brien told the meeting there were many issues at the hospital had been escalated.

“They didn’t always find their way to the right decision-making levels and this must be investigated in accordance with fair procedures,” he said.

However, he said that his acceptance of the report did not mean that he necessarily agreed with every line of the 208 page report.