Roisin Shortall TD

If Children’s Health Ireland want confidence to be restored, it must be fully transparent

The public deserves answers now about the circumstances which led to 19 children suffering serious complications, with one child tragically dying, after spinal surgery in Temple Street, according to Social Democrats Health Spokesperson Róisín Shortall.

“At the outset, I want to express my condolences to the family of the child who tragically died and my sympathies to the families of those children who have suffered horrific complications and repeat surgeries because of this scandal.

“The public deserves answers now about what went on at Temple Street and, crucially, who knew what and when. For a start, complex spinal surgeries for children with spina bifida have been paused for nearly a year, since November 2022, because of this issue. Despite this, the HSE have today been unable to answer very basic questions.

“The Ditch has reported that surgeries were paused last year, one month after a freelance journalist contacted the hospital with questions about this matter. Is it the case that queries from a journalist brought this matter to light internally? Was the Minister for Health informed about the reason for the pause in surgeries at that time – and, if not, why not?

“There is also a complete lack of clarity about the timeline of these incidents – and the fact that so many children’s care has been negatively impacted. The HSE has said that an internal review went back to 2018, but declined to state when unlicenced medical devices were implanted into three children.

“It has also been reported that springs, for these medical devices, were obtained from a DIY store. Given a doctor was apparently free to insert unlicenced and inappropriate medical devices into a number of seriously ill children, what are the procurement procedures that relate to these devices? How is it that a consultant was able to insert so many unlicenced and dangerous devices into so many children?

“The Ditch has also reported that a senior staff member, who raised concerns with a journalist last year, felt unable to blow the whistle internally because of a bullying and intimidating workplace culture. This is an extremely alarming allegation that must also be addressed.

“We are told that two reviews, an internal and external review, have already been conducted and that a third external review is now in train. A fourth review by Selvadurai Nayagam, a consultant at Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital, has been announced today.

“In circumstances where the hospital has had knowledge of this extremely grave matter for 10 months, and two separate reviews have already been carried out, why is there such a dearth of information being announced today? If CHI want confidence to be restored, it must be fully transparent and release all of the information that it has related to this scandal.

“Children’s Health Ireland must clarify if the tragic death of a child, who was treated by the consultant now under investigation, was directly related to the care they received. CHI must also clarify when these devices were implanted and how that was allowed to happen. It must also clarify the extent of the complications suffered by the other children who were affected by this scandal.

“CHI must also confirm when complex spinal surgeries at Temple Street will proceed, given the waiting list of children who desperately need care is continuing to grow and children suffer excruciating pain, and potentially permanent disfigurement, while they wait for care.”


18 September 2023

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