HSE an ‘organisational shambles’

THE Health Service Executive has become an “organisational shambles” and “completely dysfunctional”, the opposition said last night.

Fine Gael health spokesman Dr James Reilly said it was clear from the three reports that “patients do not come first”.

Labour health spokes-woman Jan O’Sullivan said the reports were a “damning indictment” of both the HSE and Health Minister Mary Harney.

Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the cancer scandal had “exposed the overall lack of coherent policy and planning at Government and HSE level”.

The opposition also said the reports raised as many questions as they answered.

Fine Gael’s Mr Reilly said the reviews had failed to identify those responsible for the problems at Portlaoise.

“It’s a whitewash,” he stated. “Who made the decisions? Why was the decision made? How did it impact on patient care? What did it cost? Those questions have not been answered — nobody is responsible.”

He pleaded with Ms Harney to get control of the HSE. “She has been disconnected, disengaged and disinterested for far too long. She is rapidly becoming the Minister for Mañana, the minister for tomorrow — well, tomorrow never comes. We need her to act today. I am imploring her to act, not react.”

Labour’s Ms O’Sullivan said an addendum to one of the reports noted claims by Peter Naughton, a consultant surgeon at Portlaoise, that he had repeatedly written to successive ministers seeking an improvement in facilities and staffing.

“The minister must have known that there were problems at Portlaoise and we need to know why no action was taken.”

The Labour TD also queried why Dr Ann O’Doherty, in her review, was unable to assess the quality of the mammography equipment at Portlaoise. According to Dr O’Doherty, the machine was decommissioned before she was asked to do the review.

“So when was the machine in question decommissioned; who made the decision; and why was it not retained for inspection during the course of the investigation?”

Sinn Féin’s Mr Ó Caoláin said the revelation that there were lengthy waiting lists for cancer tests placed question marks over assurances given by Ms Harney yesterday.

“Minister Harney’s commitment that this will not happen again cannot be taken seriously in the light of her failure to address the scandalous waiting times of up to 18 months for vital cancer tests such as colonoscopy as exposed earlier this week,” he said.

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