CHI facilitated cash-only private appointments for unlicensed spring surgeon in late August

Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) was facilitating cash-only, private appointments for the surgeon at the centre of Temple Street’s ongoing unlicensed springs scandal as recently as late August.

Both CHI and health minister Stephen Donnelly have since admitted they were aware of the allegations against Dr Connor Green by this stage. 

However a letter, seen by The Ditch, sent in late August and including a CHI email address, sought to organise an appointment for a patient in Green’s private clinic – located in Temple Street Children’s Hospital. The fee for this appointment, reads the email, was “payable by cash only”. 

The fee for the consultation is €130

After The Ditch on 15 September broke the story of unlicensed implants being used in spinal operations at Temple Street, the HSE announced an external review of certain surgeries in the hospital. 

Health minister Stephen Donnelly has since said he was made aware of the implant allegations on 14 August after People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy raised the issue in the Dáil in July. 

Children’s Health Ireland chief executive Eilish Hardiman claimed the hospital became aware of the use of non-medical implants in July. Sources at the hospital however, as reported by The Ditch, maintain senior management knew about the unlicensed springs as early as May. 

The surgeon at the centre of the scandal, Connor Green, has been referred to the Irish Medical Council. 

Green however was allowed to continue practising – though he was not performing surgery – in both Temple Street and the hospital’s private clinic. CHI has declined to explain this, directing all queries to its private clinic, which has declined to respond.  

A letter was sent to the parents of a patient in late August seeking to organise an appointment in Green’s private clinic. The letter included a CHI email address. 

“The fee for the consultation… is €130, which is payable by cash only,” reads the letter. 

Green’s private appointments were later cancelled and it is understood that these patients have been reassigned to other consultants in the clinic who also work at the hospital.

The time children spend on waiting lists has been a running controversy for years. Many parents have been forced to pay for private consultations, which can cut waiting time “from a period of years to one or two months,” according to one medical source. 

As far back as 2019, the Scoliosis Advocacy Network said, “You can effectively buy a child’s way onto a public surgery wait list by paying for a private first consult, bypassing all children who languish for their first public appointment. Accessing scoliosis care in Ireland is currently inequitable, favouring children whose parents have the ability to pay.

The CHI website states that while Temple Street Private Clinic is “run independently by paediatric consultants”, it has access to the public hospital’s“laboratory, x-ray, physiotherapy facilities and admissions facilities”, as well as “designated private beds throughout the hospital”. 

Pádraig Ó Meiscill

Pádraig Ó Meiscill