Laois/Offaly child psychiatrist rejects claims of serious misconduct, court hears

Aodhan O'Faolain

Reporter:

Aodhan O'Faolain

Email:

news@offalyexpress.ie

A midlands based consultant Child & Adolescent psychiatrist who has been suspended from his job for over three years has brought High Court proceedings aimed at allowing him to return to work. 

The application has been brought on behalf of Dr Peadar O'Grady, who the court heard rejects any claims against him of alleged serious professional misconduct over referral practices concerning patients to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service for Laois/Offaly. 

Arising out of the complaints Dr O'Grady is the subject of an investigation being undertaking by Acrux Consulting Limited on behalf of his employer the HSE, who suspended him on full pay in May 2015.

The complaints arose from an ADHD initiative undertaken by the service which identified a number of cases where clinical reassessments were undertaken.

Dr OGrady's diagnoses and assessments of those cases was severely criticised, resulting in an investigation process being commenced. 

Dr O'Grady,  who is a Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist based in Portlaoise, says that he is being scapegoated in respect of the under-resourcing of the services. 

He claims that due to the severe restrictions, he prioritised the most severely ill or at-risk patients. 

He generally only accepted referrals in cases which were severe, complex and persistent, his counsel Oisin Quinn SC told the court.   

Mr Quinn instructed by solicitor Shane MacSweeney said that the investigators have prepared a preliminary report into the allegations. 

Counsel said the investigation is flawed and has been conducted in a manner that breaches his client's rights to fair procedures.

The preliminary report had made conclusions without any expert evidence to support the investigator's findings, counsel said.  

In addition, Dr O'rady believes the three-person team that carried out the investigation was biased against him and had concerns how the matter was commenced and moved forward.  

Counsel said that this is the second investigation Dr O'Grady has been the subject of since his suspension. 

Counsel said the investigations concerned broadly the same matters and Dr O'Grady was "fully exonerated" following the first investigation.

Counsel said no meaningful steps to advance the second investigation were taken until after he was exonerated by the first investigation.

Counsel added there are also interpersonal difficulties between Dr O'Grady and his superior who has made the complaints against him. 

The two doctors, counsel said, have different professional views about how readily children and adolescents with ADHD should be prescribed medication. 

Counsel said that the findings of misconduct against him will be submitted to the HSE who will impose a sanction.

Dr O'Grady fears for his employment, counsel said.  

In his action against the HSE Dr O'Grady seeks various orders and declarations including an order quashing the preliminary report of investigation.

He also seeks orders preventing the HSE from proceeding with the investigation, as well as injunctions lifting his suspension.,

He further seeks declarations including that the preliminary report is null and void, that the report has been prepared in breach of fair procedures, and that his continued suspension is unlawful.

Permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex parte basis, by Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday. 

The Judge made the matter returnable to a date in November.