Families’ fury over lack of accountability

TWO families who triggered the independent review of services at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Ennis are furious no one has been held accountable.

The state’s health service watchdog found it was unsafe to keep acute, complex and specialist services at the hospital.

However, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) found it was unable to blame anyone because of a lack of clarity around local accountability and the authority to make decisions.

The inquiry was established late last year after serious concerns were raised by family members of two patients — the late Ann Moriarty and Edel Kelly — about the potential risks to the health and welfare of patients at the hospital. Other patients and their family members also contacted the authority with concerns when the inquiry was established.

HIQA confirmed yesterday seven families took part in the inquiry.

The authority’s report says a range of services at the hospital must cease in the interests of patient safety, including acute, specialist and complex surgical services, such as cancer surgery; critical and intensive care services; maternity and paediatric services and 24-hour accident and emergency services.

A&E services at the hospital were restricted to 8am to 8pm last Monday.

But the solicitor representing Ms Kelly’s parents, Eugene O’Kelly, said they had hoped the report would concentrate on why their daughter’s breast cancer was missed. “It gave a gloss of a series of failures. It has not identified any particular individuals.

“This report seems to do what many people feared it would do — it provides the nails with which to crucify Ennis Hospital.”

Patient advocate, Rebecca O’Malley, who helped the widow of Ms Moriarty, Karl Henry, to make his case, said he was disappointed nobody was held accountable.

Ms Moriarty died from breast cancer in April last year after she had been misdiagnosed twice at the hospital in 2007.

Mr Henry is ill in hospital but has been given a copy of the report, which contains 65 recommendations.

“This report would not have come about without Karl’s commitment and perseverance but he does not have answers to a lot of questions that he has about his own wife’s care,” Ms O’Malley said.

HIQA’s chief executive, Dr Tracey Cooper, said while the report did not recommend the closure of the hospital, it did stress the hospital needed to change the type and range of services to ensure better outcomes for patients.

The Health Service Executive said it was confident changes in the mid-west would provide for better, safer patient care.


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