Categories
Sexual abuse

HSE foster home scandal

hse

It takes a lot to silence a parliament and frankly it takes a lot to silence me, but this story about the foster home in the South-East leaves us all speechless.

The Health Board, as it was in those days, knew that children were being abused in a foster home. They knew that somebody in that house was in the habit of violently assaulting children entrusted to the care of that house and therefore they stopped sending children there. They knew that people were being raped there. Raped! And yet, for another thirteen years, they knowingly continued to place “Grace” in the power of this rapist. Not only that, but they sent Grace’s money to this rapist.

They subsequently refused to acknowledge their negligence and failed even to recognise that the victim or the victim’s family might deserve an apology.

They even contrived to lie to a parliamentary investigation.

They consigned a vulnerable woman to years of rape by a violent pervert, even though they knew the house was a threat to her safety.

They allowed unspeakable things to happen. Things so violent that they will shorten the woman’s life.

They facilitated the vile career of a violent rapist by their supine attitude.

It’s the Irish equivalent of the Fred West story and yet, if news reports are to be believed, all of these functionaries still hold their jobs and still deal with vulnerable children.

As I said, it takes a lot to silence a parliament, but that’s what happened today when our national assembly took a day out of its calendar so that the Director general of the HSE could address the Public Accounts Committee. It was one of those days when we might take some pride in our democracy. A day when all of us, no matter of what political stripe, united in our horror at the things that took place in this foster home.

Tomorrow, our prime minister will announce the dissolution of the current parliament, but we can hope that his final act might be to announce an inquiry into the things that caused this horror. And then perhaps we might be able to study the official mindset that allows such things to happen. But for a change, perhaps we will also see an investigation and maybe even some civil servants going to jail.

Somebody needs to be jailed for this dreadful thing.

Is there any difference between the HSE abandoning Grace to the control of a rapist and the Magdalene scandal?

 

 

 

Categories
government Health

Health Service Executive has disrespect and sloppiness at its heart

Today I finally understood the reason why our Health Service Executive is unable to deliver a modern health service.

Today I accompanied an elderly relative to hospital for a simple outpatient procedure, and I saw a highly-trained specialist nurse wasting a full half hour transcribing information from one file to another by long-hand. I saw a highly-trained professional struggling to read notes written by a doctor who, in his infinite arrogance, couldn’t be bothered to write clearly and who therefore endangered a patient.

This is the country Enda Kenny claims is at the leading edge of information technology, and yet our health service doesn’t know what its patients are doing unless a vital highly-paid professional laboriously writes it out time and time again.

Database systems have been in existence for many decades. Most developed societies have properly-designed computerised records of patients available to all health professionals at the touch of a button. This is not some sort of groundbreaking new technology, except in Ireland, so why was I surprised at the 1950s technology still pervading our public health system?

I shouldn’t have been surprised, since the reality is that the 1950s technology is also the 1950s mindset.

The people who run the Health Service Executive are trapped in the past and until the government understands this, nothing will change.

I’ve been talking about the malaise at the heart of the system for many years but at the same time it’s easy to blame systems when in reality it isn’t a system that humiliates or disrespects a patient.

The system doesn’t disrespect patients. People disrespect patients. Bad nurses disrespect patients. Arrogant doctors disrespect patients. Slovenly domestic staff disrespect patients. Sniffy administrative staff disrespect patients. And all of those people should know better but many can’t be bothered.

Ultimately, though it isn’t their responsibility, since a properly-functioning system should do three things:

A working system should educate them to understand that respect is vitally important.

It should warn all health employees that they are the employees, not the masters.

A functioning system should impress on medical consultants that they are simply employees paid by the public and that they are obliged to show respect to their customers.

If none of that works, a properly-functioning system should remove people  from their jobs when they fail to meet the appropriate standard, but ultimately, none of this works if disrespect and sloppiness are at the heart of our society.

Is it as simple as that?

Do we tolerate doctors with a god complex (people whose education we paid for) and administrators who treat us like dirt because that sort of thing is embedded in the nature of who we are?

Do we tolerate condescending receptionists and gruff nurses because that’s how it has always been?

Are we simply a disrespectful society? Are we a bunch of ill-mannered boors and is that why we have a boorish, ill-mannered, incompetent arrogant health service?

Sadly, I suspect we are.

I  suspect that the Health Service Executive is no more than a reflection of the sloppy, arrogant, class-ridden, incompetent, slovenly society we have created for ourselves.

Isn’t it time we changed not only the Health Service Executive but the way we behave?

Categories
Health Scandal

Reports On Irish Health Scandals Published

Not one, but two reports were published on the disgraceful state of our cancer care, and guess what? Neither report blamed a single individual for the disastrous mistakes that caused the Portlaoise breast-cancer debacle.

Not one!

Nobody!

It’s all systemic this and organisational that and communication the other fucking thing.

Well, would you like to know something? It isn’t.

It’s all about the hundreds upon hundreds of unqualified fools who’ve slithered their way up the Health Service Executive promotional ladder and now call themselves managers despite knowing nothing whatever about health or medicine, but who nevertheless make all the important decisions — or should I say, prevent all the important decisions.

I already said this in November and, having changed none of my opinions I see no reason to rewrite it.

Here’s what I said back then and it’s still true.

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.

That, my friends, is why you will wait for days on a trolley. That is why ninety-seven terrified women can be herded together for administrative convenience.

The people who make the important decisions about your life know nothing of medicine, or health, or patient welfare or compassion.

They know only two things: statistics and promotion.

This is how small the people are whom we call managers in our health service. Be very fucking angry.

______________________

Previously:


Categories
Health Politics Scandal

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.

 


 

Categories
Crime Favourites

What did Niall McElwee do?

UPDATE.

More recent posts

This Is Not About Niall McElwee
Niall McElwee and the PC Gestapo

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I never heard of Dr Niall McElwee until about four days ago when it emerged that he had been forced to resign from his job at the Athlone Institute of Technology where he had been lecturing in the area of social care and child protection.

It seems that he received a conviction for a sexual offence in Amsterdam two years ago, but hadn’t informed his employers. Now, the whole country is agog that a sexual offender is lecturing in child protection. Other people are raising dark mutterings about illustrative material that he used in a previous lecturing post at Waterford IT. It seems the material might have included explicit photos illustrating the physical trauma of child abuse, and some people found it offensive. He was told not to use it in future.

Now, you know my views on offending people: it isn’t a crime. I offend people every day, sometimes just for the sake of it. Before making a judgement on Niall McElwee, I would like to know exactly what the offensive material was, and I would like to know who he was showing it to. If he obtained it illegally and it was illegal to possess it, we should be told, but I haven’t heard anyone suggesting that. If it was for the purpose of teaching a class of professionals, I don’t see the problem. After all, if lecturers could never show offensive or disgusting material, then student doctors and forensic scientists wouldn’t get much of an education, would they?

I don’t know anything at all about the case in Holland, but I would like to know what exactly Niall McElwee did. From the news reports, it seems he got shitfaced drunk, blundered into a bedroom occupied by four young American girls, propositioned them, climbed into bed with one of them, got kicked out again and generally made a total fool of himself. He was subsequently arrested, and convicted of sexual assault, but maybe that’s not the entire story. Did he do something else apart from entering a bedroom occupied by four people, drunk, in his socks and underpants and making a complete offensive nuisance of himself?

It worries me. It worries me, not because I know what McElwee did, but because if everybody who ever behaved badly could be convicted of a sexual offence, the prisons would be full of sexual offenders, both male and female. And also because the definition of a sexual offence varies from one country to another. Before sacking somebody, we should be looking at what constitutes a sexual offence in this country. It’s almost impossible in places like Saudi Arabia or Iran to go outside your front door without committing a sexual offence. If McElwee had been convicted in Iran of the sexual offence of Having unIslamic dirty thoughts and wearing a knowing smirk, would the Athlone IT have called him a sexual offender and sacked him? No they wouldn’t, but why not? After all, he’d still be a convicted sexual offender.

Are we all agreed that a sexual offence is the same in Irish law as it is in Dutch? That’s all I’m asking. Tell me more. Tell me what he did. I need to know before I can start demanding his head on a platter like the media and the rest of the Irish blogosphere.

Worse, let’s look at the print media for a second. The Irish Independent is a disgrace to journalism. I think we all agree about that. It’s axiomatic, so to speak. Here’s what the Independent’s headline says:

Female colleagues complained about shamed childcare expert.

I read and re-read the article, trying to understand the relevance of the words.

Female

Is that relevant? No.

Complained.

Were the complaints upheld?

No.

So what exactly is this headline meant to convey? Do you need to ask? Of course not. It’s meant to say Pervert!

I read this story, written by Maeve Sheehan, an incompetent, cynical disgrace to a profession that was once respected. I presume this name is invented — at least, I personally wouldn’t want anyone to know I was behind such a dishonest article, but hey! that’s just old-fashioned me. The story is full of innuendo and entirely empty of fact.

If you look deeper into the story, here’s what you read:

. . . three former female colleagues wrote to the Minister for Education asking for an inquiry into his appointment and rapid promotion at the institute. Five years ago he was accused of bullying and harassment by another female colleague – a claim that was never substantiated.

What’s this about?

The bullying accusation was never substantiated, so that’s gone.

Three former colleagues wrote to the Minister.

So?

Their complaint was that he’d been promoted too quickly.  I’d call that envy.

They were female.

So?

Does that make their word more believable? Who gives a shit if they were women or men? Why is it relevant?

Bad, poor, smear journalism.

There you go. McElwee might well turn out to be an abuser once we get the full information, which we don’t have yet. But I’m not going to take the word of a bottom-feeder like Maeve Sheehan for it. To expose corruption and abuse we need solid, intelligent journalists with integrity. Unfortunately, the Independent doesn’t have a policy of hiring people who possess intelligence or integrity, or even people capable of writing coherent English. This is a pity. Reporting like this undermines the credibility of whatever decent journalists are left.

I still vividly remember Fr Brendan Smyth, an evil old bastard who raped and abused children for generations. Smyth precipitated the collapse of a government and threw the entire country into convulsions from which it still hasn’t emerged. Brendan Smyth was a manipulative rapist. So was Fr Sean Fortune. So are George Gibney and Derry O’Rourke, former national swimming coaches.

Now, forgive me, but I find it hard to equate McElwee’s behaviour with any of the aforementioned bastards, and yet the whole country is aghast at the notion of such a man lecturing in child protection. I realise that the girls in the room were under 18, and I also suspect that, as a parent myself, I would probably want to smash his face in for his behaviour, but still, the level of smugness among the media people is becoming unbearable.

Let me ask you this: if you had to fill out an application for a job, and if it had this question on it, and if you had to answer it truthfully under pain of severe electric shock to the genitalia, how would you be able to answer?

Here’s the question:

Did you ever, in the entire course of your life, whether under the influence of alcohol or otherwise, make unwelcome sexual advances to a member of the opposite sex?

My opinion? Nobody in the entire country, man or woman, would have a job. (Except, of course, employees of Independent Newspapers who, as we all know, are entirely above reproach).

I’m not saying Niall McElwee should have remained in his position. I’m only saying I don’t have enough information yet to form an opinion, but I’ll tell you this much: what we’re seeing at the moment isn’t informed public opinion.

What we’re seeing is a lynch-mob baying for blood.

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