Irish Breast Cancer Scandal

Why did ninety-seven terrified Irish women have to gather together in one place yesterday, under the glare of the media, and wait all day to find out if they had breast cancer?

How did it happen that these ninety-seven women heard on the news that they might have breast cancer?

When the HSE discovered that 568 ultrasound tests needed to be reviewed, who decided to wait until all the tests were checked before telling the women?

Who decided that, even though days and hours might be vital, they wouldn’t contact each woman individually if the ultrasound result was in question?

Who decided it would be more convenient for the system if the women were made to wait months until all 568 tests were reviewed?

Who decided to phone the women who were in the clear first and make the other 97 wait until the end?

Who decided it would be enough to allocate two (2) specialist nurses to make all these phone calls?

Listen carefully.

There are no managers in the Irish health service. No doctors or nurses run our hospitals. There are only administrators.

Remember this: our health service is not run by health professionals.

The Health Service Executive is run by inflated office-boys who have one skill and one skill only: crawling their way upwards through a bureaucracy, grade upon grade, until they arrive at a point where some other office-boy names them Manager. These are the people who, in their unbelievable, ignorant, uneducated hubris have been known to refer to the nurses, physicians and surgeons as the technical staff.

They are not managers. They are only administrators, and bad ones at that.

These people are from the vast ranks of mediocre know-nothings who arrived into the old Health Boards as junior clerks at the age of seventeen with a fair-to-bad school Leaving Certificate. If not for this stroke of luck, they might have struggled to find a job selling shoes.

These “managers” spent their formative years stamping pieces of paper and looking down their noses at poor people huddled outside a wooden hatch in some freezing Victorian health centre.

These are the geniuses who stuff our public service, and strangle the initiative of people with real talent and real vision. These are the dead weight that guarantee our health service is, and will remain, a complete disaster.

Our health service is not run by health professionals. Never forget this. It is run by arrogant office-boys without vision, talent, understanding, skill or sympathy. They have nothing. They are puffed-up windbags without training, without qualifications, without experience, without knowledge. These are the small, empty, self-important, grey, clueless, frightened, boring, semi-literate, arrogant men and women we call “managers” within the health service. The kind of people who have never done a single practical thing in their entire useless lives.

And that is why ninety-seven terrified women crowded into a small clinic where they waited all day to learn their fate while the media mob prowled the car-park waiting to interview the first confirmed cancer-victim and put it on the nine-o’clock news.

A proud day for Ireland.

Somebody in the HSE gave a statement explaining why they didn’t inform each woman immediately it became clear her particular scan was in question. He said something to the effect that they wanted to get a big enough group of people together before recalling them.

Now, one thing is certain: you have to move fast when cancer is detected. But somebody, it seems, decided it would be all right to let these women wait for weeks, or even months, until enough of them had been herded together to simplify things for the HSE.

Go back to the radiologist. It isn’t immediately clear if anybody made a mistake or if the problem arises due to defective equipment. However, if somebody did overlook all these cases, there would seem to be negligence or incompetence involved.

On the other hand, what if somebody dies because of the delay imposed by a HSE official for administrative convenience? Will that be negligence too?

I don’t think so. That, I think, is called manslaughter.



27 thoughts on “Irish Breast Cancer Scandal

  1. It seems like accountants run everything these days. We have the same problem in the US, except we have to pay for it through the nose to boot.

    To make matters worse, if the same thing happened here, the women might not be able to sue. Many patients here have to go to a quasi-legal arbitration service hired by the health insurer. I’m betting the arbitration service isn’t an impartial observer.

    Good post. My sympathies go out to these women and anyone else who becomes a victim of being administrated to death.

  2. If they were accountants, at least they’d be qualified in something, useless though it might be. The fools we call managers have no qualifications in anything at all, and yet they dictate health-care policy and pretend to manage our hospitals.

  3. 100 % accurate in your characterization of those in running the HSE. 100 % correct that without a revolution, nothing will change. Soon when the tiger stops purring, this HSE will bankrupt our banana republic. It’s an absolute and utter abomination. Bock I don’t think people from abroad understand the depths of insanity our public services operate from, despite your eloquent efforts (how could they conceive of such madness). I pray that me and mine go quickly or have adequate insurance. The HSE is merciless.

    Have you thought about what went wrong? I haven’t heard anything rational only that the radiologist/ doctor was suspended. Was it the machine, the calibration or was it a competence issue. I wouldn’t be surprised if the root of the problem lay in the administration.

  4. The fear and humiliation involved for those women is staggering. It’s not bad enough that they have a cancer scare in front of them but they have to suffer the indignity of a media circus to boot.
    For shame, Ms. Harney and her minions. Bertie’s vote of confidence hardly matters.

  5. Give them free medical cards and travel passes on the news tonight, too little too late those poor women. shambolic.

  6. Sniffle: Move to France when you get old.

    Medbh: Bertie’s vote of confidence? That man’s word means nothing, and anyway there’s no point in sacking Mary Harney. The next minister will be equally powerless to do anything about these battalions of self-serving incompetents.

    Ash: Pathetic.

    Eliza: Yes. It is.

  7. I can’t recall hearing about anything as badly managed as this sorry mess in a long time. The Hurricane Katrina response was maybe the last. I’m not joking about that. This is a bloody disaster on every level; the personal toll it’s taken on the women involved, and their families; the time wasted in informing them that could have been used for treatment; the distress of front line drs and nurses who have no power to change the system – skilled professionals who might be up and tempted away to Australia or the US or a place where their opinions in handling matters like these are respected; the blindingly stupid PR advisor who thought damage limitation meant organizing some sort of hideous public barreldraw for cancer stunt – in a fucking carpark! and the lack of trust the Irish public feels in the healthcare system.

    Many, many people ought to be fired over this. Cruel and unusual punishment is what they inflicted on these poor women. The radiologist made a mistake, a serious one, but things were only made worse by the complete douche-bags in charge.

    I really hope these dangerous idiots are taken to task and that heads roll over this.

  8. Just one small point there, Sam. We don’t yet know if the radiologist made a mistake. This could be due to some administrative douchebag refusing to approve the purchase of newer equipment.

    The press, as you say, have a role to play, and this is not going to disappear.

  9. Bock,

    The happy smiley Where Angels Fear policy prevents me from engaging with this kind of thing. Thank heavens there’s someone like yourself prepared to take it on and make the points that need to be made. Respect to you is all I can say.

    The HSE is post-Celtic Tiger Ireland in microcosm. I’m inclined to think that the radiologist in question was ‘somebody’s cousin’ if you get my drift….

    Best, Liam

  10. On a parallel note when the 2 disks went missing in the UK it resulted in a resignation, what sort of fucking neck to our lot have that they are insisting that it wasn’t their fault and they shouldn’t resign. The arrogance of the shower in power is really quite awesome!

  11. Sam’s comment : “Many, many people ought to be fired over this.” No-one is ever fired from the Civil Service (read HSE) in Ireland Sam. It’s impossible to get them out ( technically and all but legally) . The organisation is stagnant and self-serving. The call for Mary Harney’s resignation is symptomatic of a malignancy within our country, where politicians try to score points from this chaos and tragedy. Shame on them, shame on us to an extent as it’s our civil service.

  12. Jimmy Page, I couldn’t give a flying fuck for Mary Harney are any other skulking front bencher. My point is the smoke-screen, the confusion caused by this diversion at a time when the nation’s focus needs to be on the issue, on the victims.

  13. well done, sugar. i’m passing this one along to a few yanks who have a very rose colored glasses view of irish society! tis one thing to spend a few weeks on holiday touring the countryside and another to really read and hear what the locals have to say about life on a day to day basis.

  14. Sniffle: I don’t think that anybody bad-mouthing Harney and her various slitherings from responsibility is really going to cause too much of a ‘smoke-screen’. Personally I doubt that the whole shooting match would run much worse were her attention fully diverted by making arguments for why it wasn’t her fault.

    You see, she has minions to deal with all the stuff that isn’t stating why it’s not her fault. Like the minions that looked after the issue of the letter from Peter Naughton in 2005, informing her that the radiology department in Portlaoise was “in a shambles” and was staffed “by people who have no expertise in this area”.

    Yep. Those minions are on the case. Harney can get back to telling us why it’s not her fault.

  15. And I nearly smashed the telly when that idiot reporter on the RTE news kept referring to “the people”, rather than the women, who had been called to the mass meeting. The fool.

    And re the HSE… I wonder just how much it cost to change all the Health Boards’ letter heading and stationery and signage, and I wonder just how many administrative staff were made redundant… and I wonder how it is with a bigger population and so much more money being spent that there are fewer beds in the system than there were 20 years ago.

    That’s about when Haughey started up his chain saw to make spending cuts while he wooed Terry Keane in fancy restaurants.

    That’s CJ Haughey, you know, the man who appointed Gene Fitzgerald as Minister for Finance?

  16. well done bock, nothing but truth in your message, but you are merely a voice in the wilderness! perhaps the country’s messiah is on the way, any idea who it will be? just ’cause we’re out in mid-atlantic doesn’t mean we are lost as a nation!

  17. Bock for once I can agree the biggest problem in Ireland is the civil servants
    strike that its the incompetent civil servants. Politicians govern but its the civil servants that run the country.

    I will change my normal voting if one of the opposition gauranntees to tackle public workers, pay , terms and conditions. But alas no one will as they are too strong and will bring the country to a halt. Shame really that we can fire politicians but cant even demote a Civil servant.

    MacDara ( Living in a country with out a President or accepted government and surviving)

  18. Macdara: It’s a bit more complicated than that. All the medical staff are also public servants, as are all our firefighters, police, army, and a host of other professionals. By and large, these people do a good job.

    The ones I’m complaining about are those mediocre thousands who possess no expertise in anything except getting promotions.

    Here’s the test: if the civil service were somehow abolished tomorrow, who would be qualified to find a job somewhere else and who wouldn’t? That would show you quick enough who’s who.

  19. 2 months ago I wnet to the doctor about a very minor complaint, he referred me to a urologist. Now, I don’t have a medical card and can’t afford private insurance. Basically because my complaint isn’t serious enough I have been graded accordingly by the “Mr”… a minimum wait of a year and a half. Until I rang to find out they were not going to contact me until sometime in 2009 , if I was lucky. I was told that it is policy to only contact people to make the appointment.
    Ok my point is… if they can’t even be arsed to send a simple letter to tell someone that they have a 1-2 year wait to be seen, they’re hardly going to tell some innocent women that they might have cancer….
    We have to think of POLICY
    and when I see that fat witch on the tv I feel sick..

  20. When you look at it, it comes down to two things:

    Money and Croneyism….

    Not things that any country has the market on, I’m afraid.

    (iraq iraq iraq)

    Not belitting anyone, but the root of many problems seem to be those two things…a pox on whomever decided to trade things for things!

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