HSE apology too late for Sean but it could save someone else, says family

The HSE West has apologised to the family of a man with serious speech and hearing problems, after he was killed on his way home from a hospital appointment last February.

Fifty nine-year-old Sean Flaherty was knocked down after he left UHG alone and proceeded to try to find his way home to Clifden, Connemara, without a penny in his pocket. The late Mr Flaherty had been sent to the A&E department in a taxi by his doctor for a routine procedure on his arm. He brought a letter from his doctor to alert the hospital authorities that he had a speech and hearing impediment, insinuating that he might need special care.

The HSE has finally admitted neglect on its part after the family of Mr Flaherty spent five months attempting to make contact with the local health authority to get an apology.

Teresa Flaherty, Sean’s sister, said that although his death has not yet hit them properly, receiving an apology from the HSE West has given them some form of relief.

Speaking to the Galway Advertiser, Teresa said, “This has been so unfortunate, and although the HSE have said that they should have taken better care on their side, they didn’t admit responsibility until last week.

“All we wanted was an apology, we didn’t know anything except that he walked out those hospital doors alone and was hitching to Clifden.”

Ms Flaherty also said the HSE claimed that in the future it will try to take better care of patients, “It may be too late for Sean, but it could save someone else.”

The city Mayor and member of the HSE’s Regional Health Forum West Padraig Conneely has been fighting for the family the whole time, who were “very disturbed” that they had not been given the full facts of the case.

Cllr Conneely expressed his concern as to why Mr Flaherty was left to find his own way home at night in the pouring rain “without one red cent in his pocket”, if the HSE was aware of his problem.

Teresa Flaherty believes that without the help of Cllr Conneely, they might still be waiting for an explanation from the local health authority. “Padraic Conneely has been such a great help to us, only for he was fighting for us, the HSE may have never come forward.”

Cllr Conneely said at the time that it was quite clear from the patient’s doctor’s letter that he required transport and was not “street wise.”

The HSE West told Teresa Flaherty that everything will come out in the inquest, and it has nothing to hide.

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