Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy has once again highlighted the urgent need to address the failings identified as part of the review of paediatric audiology services provided in more than 900 cases by one audiologist in Mayo and Roscommon from 2011 to 2015 which may have left some children with lifelong impairments.
Speaking under Topical Issues in the Dáil this week, Deputy Murphy said: “More than 900 cases were examined and 49 children found to be affected. This is yet another unbelievable failure on the part of the HSE. It is staggering to think the particular audiologist had been working in the Mayo-Roscommon area for more than ten years. It is unforgivable that many of the children identified in the review may be left with lifelong hearing impairments. It is utterly shocking. What good is the apology that has been given to the families if their children were at an increased risk of a missed diagnosis or may be left with lifelong hearing impairments?
“I also understand the clinical team which undertook the review found that many of the hearing assessments did not meet national audiology standards. Time and again, we hear about failures in the HSE such that it is now extremely difficult for the public to have faith in the organisation.
“If the review only covered the period from 2011 to 2015, what about the many other cases with which the individual audiologist was involved given that they worked in the Mayo-Roscommon area for over ten years? I call on the Minister to clarify whether the review will be extended to cover the full period of time the audiologist worked in Mayo-Roscommon area, as well as to other parts of the country where they may also have worked. I have submitted a number of parliamentary questions on this matter in a bid to seek urgent clarification on this latest unwelcome development.
“I have been contacted by a constituent whose daughter was misdiagnosed by the audiology service. Although the constituent was told that her child’s hearing had not been impaired, her mother’s instinct led her to pay for a private consultation and the child did have a hearing impediment. The family paid privately for an operation to deal with the problem. They paid over €2,000 to have their child’s hearing impediment corrected and hearing protected. Will they receive a refund, given that it was HSE failings that led them to seek private treatment?.”
Deputy Murphy said that he welcomed Minister of State’s Jim Daly’s response but he stressed that it was not adequate.
“The Minister of State is here to represent the Minister, Deputy Harris. In his contribution, he referred to the swift action of the HSE. He is quite an intelligent man. This review goes back five years and we could be looking at cases going back ten years with regard to a failure within the system. I would not call that swift action. More seriously, 49 of those who were reviewed were found not to have been properly diagnosed. If they ended up with issues for life, would the Minister of State or I not feel guilty? Should the HSE not feel guilty? Apologies are no good at this stage. Everyone who has been offered further assistance should take it up, however, and I am sure most of them will.
“This is a very serious matter. It is more serious because the issue goes back over ten years whereas the review deals with five years. The HSE needs to revisit this and examine where this audiologist was working. People have trust in the system but they have been gravely let down by this service,” concluded Deputy Murphy.