We were surprised and disappointed by the inaccuracies and suppositions contained in David McConnell’s letter (May 18th).
There are two points in particular that we would like to correct. First, David McConnell makes a serious allegation that “some years ago” a patient on life support in St Vincent’s hospital was transferred to Tallaght Hospital to facilitate withdrawal of life support.
Mr McConnell claims that this alleged incident occurred simply because the hospital “did not want to facilitate the courts or the relatives”.
We have been consultants in intensive care medicine since our appointments in 1993 and 1994. For the first 10 years of our tenure, we were the only consultant intensivists at St Vincent’s hospital and were responsible for the care of all patients on life support.
Our appointments predated the opening of Tallaght hospital and we can categorically state that no such incident ever arose during our tenure and nor have we ever refused to comply with a court order.
We are proud of the care we provide to critically ill patients in St Vincent’s, particularly since we now have an additional four new colleagues who are also highly trained here in Ireland and overseas.
End-of-life care is complicated and decision-making in intensive care is always taken with regard to the patient’s best interests. In addition, communication with relatives and families is of paramount importance. David McConnell’s inaccurate allegations impugn our professional reputations and the services which we provide and are wholly unfounded.
Second, David McConnell claims that in the past, newly appointed staff to St Vincent’s hospital were required to sign a form requiring them to adhere to Catholic ethics.
We commenced employment in October 1994 and May 1993 respectively and neither of us was required to sign such a form. If this was hospital policy at that time, then the hospital authorities must have made an omission in both of our cases. Alternatively, this policy did not exist at that time, or indeed since then.
Dr Patrick Benson,
Dr Kieran Crowley,
Consultants in Intensive,
St Vincent’s University Hospital,