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HSE Open Disclosure Policy Not Being Applied Claims Examiner

The Irish Examiner has published an Op-Ed in which it is claimed the HSE open disclosure policy has a long way to go before being put into practice.

The HSE open disclosure policy of communicating to patients and their families when “things go wrong” with the standard of healthcare delivered to them has been in force since November 2013. Yet, according to an editorial opinion published in the Irish Examiner, although the policy is good in theory, it is not being put into practise in Ireland´s hospitals.

The author of the Op-Ed, Catherine Shanahan, supports her claim that the HSE open disclosure policy is not being applied with details of seven high profile medical negligence claims from 2015. These cases demonstrate how the Health Service Executive is failing to own up to mistakes and forcing patients families to go to court to get the truth about the standard of care they received.

The case of Gill Russell is possibly the one most people will remember because of the subsequent actions of the State Claims Agency. Gill was born in 2006 suffering from cerebral palsy after a “prolonged and totally chaotic” delivery during which he was starved of oxygen in the womb. It was not until 2012 that the family received an apology from the HSE and an interim settlement of compensation was approved.

Due to the fact that no system of periodic payments has been introduced, Gill´s family returned to the High Court in December 2014 and were awarded a €13.5 million lump sum settlement – the largest ever award of compensation for cerebral palsy. The State Claims Agency appealed the value of the settlement and, in November 2014, the appeal was rejected. Yet the State Claims Agency plans to take the case to the Supreme Court – depriving Gill´s family of much needed funds to pay for his care.

Other cases used as examples that the HSE open disclosure policy is not being applied included the case of Skye Worthington, whose family waited almost four years before receiving an apology for their daughter´s mismanaged birth, and Katie Manton – another little girl who suffers from cerebral palsy due to a mismanaged birth. In Katie´s case, her parents waited four years for an admission of liability and seven years for an apology. The apology was described as “too little, too late” by Katie´s father.

Throughout the remaining examples in Ms Shanahan´s article, it becomes abundantly clear that the HSE open disclosure policy is not being applied and the volume of money devising the policy and distributing booklets to patients and medical professionals has just been another huge Health Service waste at the expense of the taxpayer.

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