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In December, the HSE Director of Quality Improvement Dr Philip Crowley emailed the then National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead, Acute Hospitals, Dr Colm Henry, informing him of a meeting held with the Department’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan regarding notifications under the Act.
According to the email, obtained by the Medical Independent (MI) under Freedom of Information legislation, one of the points that the Department wished to raise was that “no identifying details of any people seeking care under the Act” should be included in the notifications sent to the Department.
Dr Crowley also advised that there was no requirement to include the name of any clinicians on the form, and that their Medical Council number would suffice.
In 2015, MI reported on serious breaches of patient confidentiality in the process through which terminations of pregnancy were notified to the Minister for Health under the Act.
Some notification forms were not completed in compliance with the legislation “with missing or incorrect information being supplied, and including serious breaches of patient confidentiality”, Dr Holohan informed the then HSE Director General Mr Tony O’Brien in September 2014.
The notifications schedule comprises three parts. Part A (Patient Details) should be retained by the hospital and Parts B and C should be sent to the Department under the statutory notifications process.
The general scheme of a Bill to regulate termination of pregnancy, published by the Department in July, provides for a notifications process to the Minister following terminations of pregnancy.