Ombudsman condemns 'excessive secrecy' of HSE

Ombudsman condemns 'excessive secrecy' of HSE

The Ombudsman launched a blistering attack on the Health Service Executive today, claiming staff put the organisation’s interests before patients and the public.

Emily O’Reilly said excessive secrecy in the health body was a huge issue and claimed that there was something rotten within its system.

Ms O’Reilly highlighted an unpublished case where she attempted to access records but was led on an “'Alice in Wonderland' trip around the legal system” by the HSE.

“I think there is a huge issue around the excessive secrecy and legalism of the HSE,” Ms O’Reilly said.

“It strikes me that it is a cultural thing within the HSE and it is redolent of a body that looks not to the public interest, which is the only reason it’s there, and seeks instead at times to protect its own interests.

“And that’s very wrong.”

Complaints to the Ombudsman last year reached a 10-year high at 2,873, according to the office’s seventh annual report.

Some 26.3% referred to grievances concerning the HSE, down 1.2% on 2008, while 41.9% were complaints against the civil service – up 2.8% on last year.

Ms O’Reilly said that while there were cases of satisfactory care in the HSE, she had come across appalling cases of medical neglect which she claimed were simply unacceptable and had to be highlighted.

The Ombudsman said in recent attempts to access records on payments connected with family law, the HSE was effectively trying to prevent a report being published.

“We were led on what I can only describe as a sort of an 'Alice in Wonderland' trip around the legal system as the HSE effectively tried to prevent that report from being published and that was a huge waste of public money,” she said.

The Ombudsman said there was a “Kafkaesque dance through the courts”, but said she hoped the report would be published shortly.

Ms O’Reilly also referred to recent attempts by the Government to get up-to-date information on the number of children who have died in state care.

“You have the Government wanting information, the ministry, the parliament, the people, and the HSE said no,” she said.

“Even though I am 100% certain that there were any number of legal mechanisms that could have allowed this information to get out.”

The Ombudsman said those sort of records have been routinely released over the last 26 years to her office and elsewhere.

“So there is something rotten within that system,” she said.

The report also revealed complaints against local authorities accounted for 30%, down 0.1%, while grievances about An Post amounted to 1.6%.

More on this topic

‘Staffing meets air medical needs of patients’ says ICP President‘Staffing meets air medical needs of patients’ says ICP President

Patient Safety Bill measures ‘could lead to reduction in litigation’Patient Safety Bill measures ‘could lead to reduction in litigation’

Minister praises HSE for reducing deficitMinister praises HSE for reducing deficit

FF: €1bn HSE savings target 'not credible'FF: €1bn HSE savings target 'not credible'

More in this Section

Bloody Sunday Soldier F hearing set to be held in Belfast amid security fearsBloody Sunday Soldier F hearing set to be held in Belfast amid security fears

Teachers to strike on February 4Teachers to strike on February 4

Two people shot in BallymunTwo people shot in Ballymun

Tributes paid to Cork student following tragic killingTributes paid to Cork student following tragic killing


Bryan Stevenson is the American civil rights lawyer who provided the inspiration for the newly-released film Just Mercy. Esther McCarthy spoke to him in IrelandReal-life lawyer Bryan Stevenson on inspiring Just Mercy

So I’ve booked my holidays. And before you ask, yes, I’m basing it around food and wine. I’ll report back in July, but I thought readers might be interested in my plan should you be thinking about a similar holiday.Wines to pick up on a trip to France

Esther N McCarthy is on a roll for the new year with sustainable solutions, cool citruses and vintage vibes.Wish List: Sustainable solutions, cool citruses and vintage vibes

They have absolutely nothing really to do with Jerusalem or indeed with any type of artichoke, so what exactly are these curious little tubers?Currabinny Cooks: Exploring the versatility of Jerusalem artichokes

More From The Irish Examiner