The HSE practice of setting up patients with non-existent appointments with a consultant who no longer works at the Midland Regional Hospital (MRH ) in Mullingar has been described by a local TD as a “scam and an outrage”.
Fine Gael TD, James Bannon, revealed yesterday (September 24 ) that at least one patient had five of these appointments made over the last seven months with a consultant who left the MRH in February and has not yet been replaced.
Deputy Bannon has demanded an apology from Health Minister, Mary Harney.
“This is a scam and an outrage,” said Deputy Bannon.
“Seriously ill patients are being conned by having appointments made for a non-existent dermatological consultant. At the last minute, these appointments are cancelled with a new date being provided which, when it comes time for this new appointment, is also cancelled and the process begins again.
“The consultant in question left the hospital months ago yet appointments are still being made to meet them. Information provided to me shows that one patient has had his/her appointment cancelled on five different occasions in the last six months with the latest appointment being set for mid-November 2009. This is despite it being known that, months ago, the consultant had actually moved to a Dublin hospital.
“It is completely false for the HSE or anyone to allege that new appointments are not being made while hiring procedures are going on as appointments were made for September and for November with no consultant in place.
“This is gross abuse of patients by the HSE. Patients who are told they need to be seen by a consultant can’t be left to wait indefinitely. They need medical help, not bogus appointments. The HSE must immediately apologise.
“Mary Harney must make a full statement explaining how this con-job has been allowed to go on and whether this is occurring elsewhere.”
A spokesperson for the HSE was unavailable to comment at length, but said yesterday that the list of complainants to Deputy Bannnon was “very small - maybe as little as one”.