Anderson on Mater as site for National Paediatric Hospital

Critique of the Karl Anderson Opinion published in the Irish Times on 30th October 2010.

This man is a former Chairman of the New Crumlin Hospital Group and a former advisor to Professor Brendan Drumm when the latter was CEO of the HSE.

His opinions are pock-holed with illogicality and non-sequiturs. The title “Endless talk will kill off our children’s hospital”. This is simply untrue. He quotes Hanly as if it is a gold-standard.

He quotes the experience with cancer misdiagnosis and states that this lead to a rationalisation of cancer services. “If we want convenience we have to compromise quality”. This is an oversimplification. What we need is professional medical communication in all subspecialties and honesty at multidisciplinary meetings on individual cases. We need to bin the blame culture and accept that failures happen and change to try to eliminate recurrence. Levels of acceptable quality must be quantified and audited in all medical disciplines. The Medical Council is heading in this direction now and with the Health Information and Quality Authority, Irish National Accreditation Board and the Medical Colleges, standards, outcomes and audits will drive medical service provision.

Anderson’s claim that there is no alternative to the Mater is absurd. He says the objections are access and parking as if these are not insignificant matters. He cites the sale value of the Mater Private in 2007 as €350 million. The health insurance payments for treatments at the Mater Private are ridiculous allowing a profit of more than €20 million in one year. This affects the price and so would the absurdities of the 2007 property market. Nobody is advocating no change in the paediatric set-up. It is obvious that there should be one tertiary super-specialised children’s hospital in the state because of our 4.5 million population. I believe that accessibility is important both for patients and staff. The M50 and environs is a clear and obvious place for such a building. Blanchardstown Hospital has the room for a maternity hospital also and the necessary immediate access to motorways.

Mr Anderson takes a scatter gun to Breda O’Brien, Roisin Healy, Finn Breathnach but misses. Nobody is blind to the clinical merits of a National Paediatric Hospital at the Mater site. Very many people recognise that this is simply the wrong place and that alternatives are superior and will not have a clinical downside. Sometimes the populist is correct.

So Mr Anderson I remain unimpressed with your arguments.