Transplant Services – any forward planning?

14-05 John Speaking 2

[Speaking in the Seanad on a Motion on Transplant Patient Services]

I thank the Minister for coming in at short notice. I know it is difficult. I should mention at the outset that I have a dog in this fight, as they say in the vernacular, because I am a member of staff at St. Vincent’s Hospital. In that capacity, I would like to welcome the new unit at the hospital and the new service that will be offered in our institution. I am trying to see beyond that today. As someone who has tried to become an expert on these arcane dealings over the past eight hours, I wish to know whether my understanding is correct. It seems that St. Vincent’s Hospital intends to interview folks who are interested in becoming its new hospital-domiciled or hospital-resident transplant surgeon with an interest in pancreas transplant. I understand it is hoped that those interviews will take place fairly soon. The aspiration is that one of the suitable candidates, all of whom are qualified to do pancreas transplants, will pass the interview, accept the job offer and turn up for the job. As the Minister knows – I do not mean this as a personal comment on him or his administration – many factors have conspired in recent times for a variety of reasons and, as a result, the movement from somebody sitting down in an interview to actually taking up a post is fraught with pitfalls. There has been many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip.

At this point in time, we have a promise that a resident transplant surgeon based at St. Vincent’s Hospital will be doing this procedure. In that context, I will conclude by asking a bigger question that has to be asked about the health service. What kind of forward planning is involved in this? I would like to hear the Minister’s honest opinion on the matter. Was the move from Beaumont Hospital to St. Vincent’s Hospital planned for a long time? Was it precipitated by the retirement of a distinguished person who has given heroic service, and whom I wish extraordinarily well for a long, happy and productive retirement? The doctor in question has really blazed a trail. How long has this move been known about? Is there something wrong with a system that does not have sufficient redundancy in it to cope with one retirement, one parental leave or one person gong out sick? I know the Minister will turn his considerable talents and his attention to the issue of rationalising and developing a really good nationally-based transplant service, with national strategic goals. I wish him well with that.

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