Solicitor calls on HSE not to force Kerry patients to 'run the full gamut' of High Court proceedings

A solicitor representing two seriously ill women affected by the missed and delayed cancer diagnoses at University Hospital Kerry has called on the HSE not to force his clients to run “the full gamut” of High Court proceedings, and instead sit down and deal with the matter immediately.

Padraig O’Connell said communication from the HSE has been “limited” and described it as less than satisfactory.

“My clients and others have been treated appallingly," the Killarney-based solicitor said.

Mr O’Connell said the corporate world of the HSE had to remember they were dealing with individuals whose lives had been upturned by the delayed diagnoses.

“These are individuals. These are ordinary human beings. Why should these matters be put on a slow train to the High Court? " he asked during an interview on Radio Kerry.

He also urged the HSE to "deal with it now”.

He described the approach so far to those affected as “all speak and little meaning” and said there was "huge disquiet" in the region following the publication of a report on Wednesday detailing the largest ever review of scans ever conducted in a hospital in this country.

Both the South South-West Hospital Group and the HSE declined to respond.

Sinn Féin Cllr Toireasa Ferris, who knows some of the families affected, has questioned the figures released in the report.

That report stated that 11 people had their cancer diagnosis delayed and four of those patients died.

However Ms Ferris said: "I know of a fifth death and a 12th person whose cancer diagnoses was delayed.”

She is also highly critical of the look-back review as she said it failed to address concerns raised by staff and colleagues about the individual consultant radiologist.

“There is no mention in the report about this,” she said.

The Cllr said the entire report was about the review of the scans by a single individual, but there had been systematic failures and these had not been addressed.

“Management must be held accountable,” she said.

Communication with patients was less than what was required, she felt.

The chairman of the Safety Incident Management Team Gerard O’Callaghan said the review was about patient welfare and safety, and was not dealing with competence.

The report said the review and its results "do not imply that the harm caused was exclusively attributable to the consultant radiologist whose work was reviewed”. This would be a matter for the Medical Council and therefore outside the remit of the review team.

The radiologist, a locum, was registered on the specialist register of the Medical Council and had satisfactory references from previous employers.

The individual had been placed on administrative leave from July 27, 2017, pending the outcome of investigations and chose to formally resign on October 18, 2017," the report states.

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