Tag Archives: Simon Harris

Minister for Health Simon Harris

This morning.

Via RTE:

Correspondence obtained by RTÉ News has revealed that a private secretary to the Minister for Health wrote on 6 June to the woman whose case exposed the latest CervicalCheck crisis.

The letter to ‘Sharon’ says that: “The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, T. D. has asked me to thank you for your correspondence concerning CervicalCheck and would like to again apologise for any distress this delay has caused you and reassure you that this is a priority for his Department and the Health Service Executive (HSE).”

Last weekend, the department said that it became aware of the existence of an IT issue on 25 June through information supplied by the Health Service Executive.

Minister Harris has said the matter was first escalated to him last Wednesday evening, 10 July.

Minister’s office wrote to woman at centre of latest CervicalCheck issue on 6 June (RTÉ)

Previously: ‘I’m Still Kind Of Flabbergasted’

Rollingnews

Good times.

Update:

No moves to break deadlock as SIPTU health strike looms (RTÉ)

Ah here.

This morning.

Tallaght University Hospital.

Minister for Health Simon Harris at the launch of a new CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) Centre at Tallaght Hospital with Tommy Fegan Chairman of CRY Ireland.

The centre will facilitate free cardiac assessments and support to individuals and families who have lost loved ones to Sudden Cardiac Death or are affected by inherited cardiac conditions.

It’s not a caption competition until you insist.

Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews

Minister for Health Simon Harris

Thiis afternoon.

At the Oireachtas Health Committee.

More as we get it.

Earlier: Deconstructing Health

This morning.

Minister for Hashtags Health Simon Harris is before the Oireachtas health committee.

It follows the publication of the PwC review of the National Children’s Hospital yesterday – which warns the total cost of the hospital could breach the current estimate of €1.7 billion.

It also follows Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin yesterday asking Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to request that Mr Harris address the Dáil about the timeline of events which took place before he announced, via Twitter, free out-of-cycle smear tests for concerned women following the High Court case taken by Limerick’s Vicky Phelan.

Women are now waiting up to a record 33 weeks for results of the smear tests, while the backlog currently stands at just under 79,500.

Last week it emerged that the former clinical director of CervicalCheck Gráinne Flannelly had  written to the health committee – saying she advised against the State offering free repeat smear tests as she believed there were insufficient laboratory resources.

Ms Flannelly stepped down after the CervicalCheck scandal broke.

RTÉ News reports:

Mr [Stephen] Donnelly [Fianna Fáil TD] asked the minister to correct the Dáil record given the evidence the committee has received about the decision to offer the free retests.

Mr Harris accused Mr Donnelly of making “false political charges”.

He said: “I made the decision. I stand over the decision. I made the decision consistent with the advice of the chief medical officer and there has been no evidence produced to suggest that I didn’t.”

He cited a letter from the Department of Health to the Ceann Comhairle in response to comments made by Micheál Martin.

It said that the minister’s decision on 28 April 2018 was consistent with advice received from his officials.

Harris tells committee he stands over smear retest decision (RTE)

Children’s hospital to proceed despite ‘significant failings’ (The Irish Times)

UPDATE:

Last Friday.

The Irish Examiner (top) reported concerns raised by solicitor Cian O’Carroll – who represented Vicky Phelan and the late Emma Mhic Mhathúna (above).

Mr O’Carroll questioned if the halting of a smear test audit occurred in an attempt to “put a lid” on the number of women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal.

In respect of this story, Mr Harris told the committee this morning:

“One of Dr Scally’s key recommendations was that the audit should be paused. I think that was entirely appropriate. Audit is a good thing, a really good thing but this one was not executed in any way that was appropriate.

“So he did call for it to be paused. I did read in a newspaper, I think on the front page of a newspaper, I did read a medical negligence lawyer suggesting that the programme had been paused to stop future litigation, just to be clear: the audit has been paused for no reason other than to implement Dr Scally’s report and address the concerns…”

Watch live above.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris

*sigh*

Simon Harris says Leo Varadkar would beat him in a ‘press up’ contest (Independent.ie)

Rollingnews

Thanks Bebe

UPDATE:

Yesterday.

Centric Health Primary Care Centre, Dublin

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris TD with head of Slaintecare Laura Magahy at an announcement regarding Primary Care.

Meanwhile

Health Minister Simon Harris was blindsided by a letter detailing a virtual recruitment freeze in the HSE.

A letter detailing a plan to stall recruitment and overtime for a three-month period was obtained by Labour Party health spokesman Alan Kelly.

The Tipperary TD said the fact the minister was not aware of the letter was “amazing”. He spoke with the minister yesterday who confirmed he was not aware of the letter.

Harris blindsided by letter freezing HSE recruitment amid ‘financial pressures’ (Independent.ie)

Rollingnews

From top: Fianna Fail leader Mícheál Martin; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; FFl TD Stephen Donnelly at an Oireachtas health committee meeting this morning; a tweet from Health Minister Simon Harris on April 28 last, offering women free repeat smears 

This afternoon.

In the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions.

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin raised the submission made by the former clinical director of CervicalCheck Gráinne Flannelly to the Oireachtas health committee – revealed this morning – in which she said she warned the Department of Health against offering free out-of-cycle smear tests to concerned women following the Vicky Phelan case last April.

As the Minister for Health Simon Harris previously stated he didn’t receive any warnings against the decision to offer the extra tests, Ms Flannelly’s submission has led some to claim Mr Harris misled the Dáil.

Fianna Fail TD Stephen Donnelly told the health committee this morning:

“What she [Gráinne Flannelly] says directly contradicts the minister’s position.

“And what she says suggests that the minister has, in fact, misled the Dail.”

Minister Harris has since said today:

I never received any contrary advice in relation to the provision of free repeat smear tests.

“It is clear that after the decision was made that some in the CervicalCheck programme did express some concerns about the operationalising of it.”

According to Ms Flannelly she was told of the move to offer the tests at lunchtime on April 28, 2018 – while Minister Harris announced the move at 5.13pm that evening on Twitter.

During Leaders’ Questions Mr Martin told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that Ms Flannelly’s claim “flatly contradicts” that of Minister Harris.

He asked the Taoiseach if he’ll ask the minister to address the Dáil and explain the full sequence of events. He also said the minister’s response to the matter “lacked character”.

Mr Varadkar told Mr Martin that the minister has previously answered questions on the subject and would be happy to do so again.

He then said:

“I think your approach here and your attack here also lacks character. Remember what you said about these people, what you said about the senior people in CervicalCheck on the 1st of May [last year].

“You said that they were cold and calculating. You suggested that they may have been involved in illegality and you suggested that they could have been involved in a conspiracy.

“So perhaps you should reflect on that and if you now hold the views you hold today, you may wish to correct the record and withdraw those remarks that you made about those senior clinicians and senior people in CervicalCheck back on the first of May.

“The reality was that the situation at the time was that there were a lot of women who were really concerned about the accuracy of their smear tests. They were attending their GPs, looking for a repeat smear test.

“They were contacting the helpline looking for a repeat test, there were some doctors calling for repeat smear tests to be allowed. When it was done, patient advocates were calling for it too.

“When it was done, it was welcomed by the Opposition and it was agreed by the IMO. So this wasn’t just a decision made by the Minister for Health. And it was also made with agreement for the Chief Medical Officer.”

Ms Flannelly says she warned that the offer of extra tests would ‘fundamentally undermine the screening programme’. She resigned on the same day the offer was announced.

Last month, Mr Harris told the Dáil that before the decision was made to offer these extra tests, neither he nor his officials received advice against the move.

It’s since emerged almost 80,000 women are now waiting up to 33 weeks for results of their smear tests when the normal waiting time is five to six weeks.

Earlier: Compare And Contrast

This morning.

Dublin Dental Hospital.

Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty launch Smile agus Slainte, the new National Health Policy.

According to figures obtained by Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly last month from the Health Service Executive, 84,000 children are awaiting check-ups or treatment in the public system.

*covers mouth*

Sam Boal/RollingNews

This morning.

At the Grangegorman Primary Care Centre in Dublin.

Minister for Health Simon Harris and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hold giant-sized cardboard ‘medical cards’ to launch the Budget 2019 changes which come into effect this week and next week.

Changes include a €10 reduction in the monthly Drugs Payment Scheme threshold from €134 to €124; a 10 per cent increase across all GP visit card weekly income thresholds; and a reduction in prescription charges from €2 to €1.50 for all medical card holders over the age of 70.

Meanwhile…

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews