A single junior doctor cannot be scapegoated for this entire scandal.

HSE CEO Paul Reid must ensure there is accountability among the senior management team for the scandal at South Kerry CAMHS, according to Social Democrats Health Spokesperson Róisín Shortall.

“HSE CEO Paul Reid appeared on Morning Ireland today, but was unable to provide any explanation for the repeated failure of HSE management to act on concerns about a junior doctor in the South Kerry CAMHS. Mr Reid further failed to provide any assurance that there would be accountability among senior management for the harm that was done to so many children and their families.

“The families of the hundreds of children in South Kerry who suffered such serious, and preventable, harm deserve clarity on these central issues from Mr Reid. They need answers about why their children were failed so spectacularly. Families accessing CAMHS services in Kerry, and other parts of the country, also need assurances that the service is providing appropriate medical care – and not actively damaging their children.

“Mr Reid highlighted that an audit of national services will soon get underway and this is welcome. However, the root causes of what went wrong in South Kerry have yet to be clearly identified. A single junior doctor cannot be scapegoated for this entire scandal. Senior management, who have a responsibility to deliver a safe service, must be also be held accountable.

“The fact is, the HSE has been warned repeatedly that their use of medics with inadequate qualifications, in place of specialist consultants, was endangering patients. In a separate case in 2018, then High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly excoriated the HSE for appointing non-specialist doctors as consultants in hospitals and mental health services. At the time, Mr Justice Peter Kelly stated it was “dangerous” and “scandalous” that such an approach had been adopted by the HSE for 10 years.

“There has been no consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist in South Kerry CAMHS since 2016. Incredibly, even after the publication of this devastating report, the HSE cannot say when a consultant is likely to be appointed. In the absence of a suitably qualified consultant, a junior doctor was effectively running the CAMHS service on his own – with little to no supervision. There has to be accountability for this stunning failure of the senior management team.

“Claims by the whistle-blower in South Kerry – that he was side-lined when he identified endemic problems in the service – must also be investigated as a matter of urgency. A culture in which staff are silenced or side-lined, for doing the right thing, cannot be tolerated. This is the very antithesis of the open and transparent culture that needs to be fostered and maintained in our public services.

“Separately, the government must also provide an update on the progress of the implementation of the new regional HSE structures mandated by Sláintecare. Under those reformed structures, there would be legally enforceable accountability among senior management teams for failures in clinical care – something that is currently sadly lacking.”

28 January, 2022


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