Press Release

Martin refutes “Anti-Hanly” argument

Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Health and Children refuted claims contained in an Irish Times article today headed “Canadian findings back up anti-Hanly argument”.

The Minister was commenting on an article quoting Canadian research in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). Dr Houston states that the Canadian research “will add weight to the argument of those opposed to the Hanly model” and notes that critics of the Hanly Report have “focused much of their criticism on the assumption that high volume equates with better patient outcome”.

The Minister pointed out that the Hanly Report does not claim that larger volume is the sole factor in producing better outcomes for patients. Hanly argues that best results are achieved from a combination of staff working in a multi-disciplinary specialist team, in appropriately staffed units, with high volumes of activity and access to appropriate diagnostic and treatment facilities.

The Minister noted that, instead of lending support to those opposed to regionalisation of specialist care, the Canadian research concluded that regionalisation of 4 out of the 5 procedures studied would actually result in fewer deaths. The authors of the research note that this might be because “shared structures and processes in hospitals that do a high volume of any complex surgical procedures may account for improved surgical outcome”. This message is very similar to that put forward in the Hanly Report.

The Minister stated: “The message in the Hanly report is clear. Decentralise a large proportion of care to our smaller hospitals, as long as it can be done safely, and concentrate complex procedures that benefit from high volumes in units best able to provide them”.

The Minister emphasised that the research cited in the Irish Times supports the Hanly report´s recommendations, rather than its critics.