Father of Temple Street patient denied participation in review, refused access to report

The father of a seriously ill spina bifida patient at Children's Health Ireland at Temple Street (CHI) was denied the right to participate in a review of surgery at the hospital.

The father, whose child was one of a number of patients who had to endure repeat operations, was denied access to the report despite repeated requests. He finally received the report today when CHI was forced to publish an amalgam of internal and external reviews of spinal surgery at the hospital.

The HSE today announced a separate external review into “aspects of orthopaedic surgery” at Temple Street “following a number of serious spinal surgical incidents”. This announcement followed The Ditch’s report last Friday on allegations that unlicensed devices made with non-medical parts have been implanted in child patients. Today’s HSE announcement said this review will investigate “the use of unauthorised implantable devices” in patients.

‘It beggars belief’

A father of a patient operated on at Temple Street, who spoke to The Ditch on the condition of anonymity, had asked Children’s Health Ireland that he be allowed to take part in a patient review. This was to be an external probe carried out by clinicians from Boston Children’s Hospital, following an earlier internal review by the hospital.

This father was told he wouldn’t be allowed to participate. The family were instead told they could present their evidence through a patients’ representative. “We were frustrated at not being allowed to participate directly and that we had to provide all our sensitive personal information via the representative, even though we’ve nothing against the representative – we just wanted to speak for ourselves,” said the parent.

The family were then refused access to the review for more than two months. It wasn’t until today, when CHI finally published a combination of both reports after The Ditch’s Friday story, that the family finally got access to its findings – having earlier been told they were subject to a non-disclosure agreement.

The father has now taken issue with a statement included in the finally published report. “CHI acknowledges,” reads the report, “the anxiety that this news may cause to our patients and their families. However, we would like to reassure our patients and their families that everybody known to have been affected has been contacted.”

The father has told The Ditch that he thinks this provision is an attempt to limit scope and liability for CHI and that there are many more orthopaedic cases – other than the 19 included in the report – that need to be reviewed.

After a series of meetings with senior management at the hospital, the father has expressed frustration at what they consider a lack of transparency at the hospital and how it’s handled the ongoing controversy.

“How the hospital has managed this situation is a little bit of a joke. If there were failings, you would think someone whose job it was would call those in to hold them to account.

“They’re happy for conversations to revolve around waiting lists, I think, because it masks the real issues. My child would be in a better position if they were still on a waiting list as opposed to getting the treatment they received – at least no harm would have been done.

“It beggars belief that this is what goes on in a place that is supposed to be the country’s centre of excellence,” he said.

A CHI spokesperson said, We welcome the findings of this expert external review team’s report and are implementing the recommendations. We deeply regret the impact that the issues identified have had on patients and their families.”

Pádraig Ó Meiscill

Pádraig Ó Meiscill