An Opinion-Editorial Published by the Irish Examiner has claimed that the open disclosure policy for the Health Service Executive is not going to be applied for a long time.
The open disclosure policy, which dictates when the HSE should tell families when there are issues with the standard of healthcare provided to patients took place in November 2013. However, the aforementioned open editorial claimed that the policy is good on paper, yet is still not being enforced in hospitals across Ireland.
Catherine Shanahan – the journalist who wrote the piece – used the details of seven medical negligence cases that occurred in 2015 and gained some attention by the media. According to Shanahan, they demonstrate how the HSE is not admitting to their wrongdoings and as such, if they want to learn the true story of the events they endured, patients and their loved ones are forced to go to court.
Gil Russell’s case, which was one of the most well-known because of the action with the Sates Claim Agency, was used as a demonstrative case by Shanahan. Born in 2006 with cerebral palsy because of a “prolonged and totally chaotic” delivery which left her deprived of oxygen in utero, the HSE only issued an apology in 2012. At the same time, an interim settlement of compensation was awarded.
The Russell family were back in the High Court in 2014 to be awarded a €13.5 million lump settlement, which was the largest ever awarded by the state for cerebral palsy. The State Claims Agency then made an attempt to appeal the settlement, though the case was later rejected. However, the case was then taken to the Supreme Court – again depriving Gill and her family of the settlement.
Other cases mentioned in the editorial included Skye Worthington and Katie Manton – both suffered similar circumstances to Gill Russell, and both waited for years to receive an apology from the Health Service Executive for their mismanaged births.
The article makes a clear case for the claim that the policy is not being applied in Irish hospitals, and that the money put towards public and doctor education concerning the policy was a waste of government funds.