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Plus ça change?

It does not augur well that even the moniker ascribed to this proposed new service has undergone so many contortions since 2011, when it was heralded in the Programme for Government.

But what’s in a name? The more troubling aspect of this proposal is how a Government-funded body would be moulded into an entity capable of exposing and helping to address inadequacies — potentially scandalous inadequacies — in patient care.

Could patients have full faith in such a body?

Could clinicians and others within the HSE confer it with their trust?

Would lip-service be paid to patient safety via glossy reports and well-meaning advice on organisational ‘culture’?

Or would it really try to do its job, peeking through woven fingers at subsequent Government budget allocations?

Details on this proposed initiative are scant, but one would hope that Minister Varadkar appreciates the need to bring something radically new to the table.

Meanwhile, also on patient safety, the National Office of Clinical Audit (NOCA) held its Inaugural Conference last week.

At the conference, Mr Ken Mealy, Clinical Director to the NOCA Executive Team, noted that despite the progress NOCA had made, challenges requiring national policy remained.

In particular, due to the absence of the Health Information Bill, NOCA’s first audit stream, identified and developed in 2012 — the Irish Audit of Surgical Mortality — remains dormant.

This is very concerning and legislation must be expedited.


James Fogarty bade farewell as Editor in the last edition of the Medical Independent. James was an award-winning journalist with this newspaper, before leading us, as Editor, to phenomenal success at the GSK Irish Healthcare Media Awards 2014.

Anyone within medicine and the health sector who has dealt with James will appreciate he is an absolute gentleman and thorough pro.

All of us at the Medical Independent thank James for his hard work and wish him continued success.

Equally, we look forward to welcoming Priscilla Lynch as Editor next month.

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