Last February the Minister for Health specifically told the Oireachtas Health Committee that he would legislate for open disclosure in the Health Information Bill.
Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson Billy Kelleher has commented: “We now learn that this will not happen. Rather there will be other legislation on this and judging by the Minister’s statement yesterday, it is not clear that it will be mandatory. It will be legally protected but it will not be legally required.
“The Minister is denying that this is a u-turn but the facts do not support his claim. For the Minister was adamant on the topic last year.”
Here’s what he said:
‘Failing to disclose openly and not adhering to a duty of candour, for me, is the equivalent of a hit and run whereby one has knocked somebody down and one does not necessarily know whose fault it is but one drives off. That happens in our health service, and I am appalled by the number of cases that I have become aware of. Some of them have been in the news. Essentially, there is adverse clinical or medical misadventure, and rather than doing the right thing – sitting down with the patient and the family the following week to explain what went on – medical personnel effectively abandoned the patients. I find that really appalling. It is not the medicine in which I was trained.’
‘If doctors and other health care professionals adhere to the duty of candour and respect the policy of open disclosure, considerably fewer people will sue. Often people sue because of the bad way their case was handled after a mistake was made. Because this is still happening, it is my intention to legislate for it in the health information Bill and to make it a legal requirement that there be open disclosure and a duty of candour, which I think is just right.’
Deputy Kelleher added: “It really could not have been more explicit. For Minister Varadkar to fail to legislate for mandatory open disclosure is a u-turn and a significant one. He is being less than candid on this one.”