Press Release

Statement by Minister for Health and Children , Mary Harney T.D. on Hayes Report on Tallaght Radiology Reporting and Management of GP referral letters

The Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney T.D. today (Thursday 4th November, 2010) thanked Dr Maurice Hayes for his very thorough and considered report into the management of radiology and GP referral letters at Tallaght Hospital.

She welcomed the report’s finding that there are no unresolved issues involving the care or treatment of patients affected by the backlog.

“Firstly and most importantly the clinical review that has taken place of 57,000 unreported x-rays has found that there were no further adverse outcomes or missed diagnosis.

There were 3,500 referral letters from GPs that required follow-up. Of the patients affected, 97% have been seen at the hospital and the remainder have all been offered an appointment with a Consultant at the hospital scheduled to take place before the end of this month. The hospital has assured the HSE that it now has in place appropriate systems and protocols for dealing with referral letters to ensure that this issue does not occur again.

However, Dr Hayes’s report has very clearly identified serious concerns about the robustness of the hospital’s management and governance structures. He refers to problems to do with the management structure, culture and style; the inadequacy of reporting systems; the lack of clear lines of responsibility; inadequate risk management; lack of written protocols and procedures; communications within the Hospital and with the main stakeholders; poorly developed relationships with GPs in the area and a failure of governance which were inconsistent with a patient centred approach.

It is obvious from the report that the incident which triggered this examination by Dr Hayes was not a once off episode and that there have been ongoing problems in the hospital.

Work has already commenced to address some of these issues on a sustained basis. HIQA in conjunction with the Irish College of General Practitioners are assessing current referral process arrangements between GPs and Hospitals.

National guidelines on radiology reporting have been developed which apply to all hospitals and are being implemented.

Tallaght hospital engaged Price Waterhouse Coopers to review the adequacy of risk-management procedures generally and to make recommendations. The hospital has also developed a detailed Governance and Quality Improvement Plan to strengthen governance and management within the hospital.

Dr Hayes also makes detailed constructive recommendations in relation to the operation of specific services in the hospital and all of these will be implemented. In particular I note his recommendation that there is a need for a strong finance function to be reflected at senior management level in the hospital.

Tallaght hospital has 600 beds and employs nearly 3,000 staff. It operates on a budget of €245m of which €189m is provided by the state. Within this resource, the hospital should be able to provide patients with a safe, comprehensive service.

I intend to meet with the Chairperson of the Hospital, the Chairman of the HSE and the CEO of the HSE to establish how the recommendations of the report can be implemented as soon as possible and to discuss what changes are needed at the hospital in order to provide sustained improvements in the services for patients.”