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'He was traumatised': Beaumont Hospital apologises over care provided to Gerry Feeney

His family are calling for a hospital ombudsman be set up.

Image: Image used with permission of the Feeney family

Updated 1.50pm

BEAUMONT HOSPITAL HAS apologised for ‘failing to protect the dignity’ of an 81-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease who was pictured in a disheveled state on a hospital ward.

Gerry Feeney, who passed away just weeks after the images emerged in early 2015, was admitted to hospital in December 2014 with an infection.

He was discharged to his nursing home by what the family call an ‘unknown junior doctor’, only to be returned days later after he had difficulty breathing.

During one visit to Gerry in hospital, a relative found him sitting exposed in a chair on a hospital ward, wearing stained clothing.

The relative was unable to find a nurse on the ward.

An independent investigation was launched by the hospital into Gerry’s death, and Beaumont Hospital has apologised to the family and is now implementing an action plan to put the report’s recommendations into effect.

The full report has not yet been published, but has been provided to the family.

The chairman of the review group said:

Whilst the condition of (the patient) seen in the photograph taken by his relative on the 19th of December 2014 is both distressing and unacceptable, we do not feel it is a fair reflection of the general standard of care provided. However, we have identified failures which have to be acknowledged, and which resulted in a failure to protect (the patient’s) dignity.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Gerry’s niece Ann-Maria claimed he was found in a similar condition on three other occasions.

“He was traumatised,” she said, pleading with family members to take him back to the nursing home.

She recalled him saying: “They’re ignoring me. I want to go, I want to go.”

She believes the Data Protection Commissioner needs to follow up on findings of the report due to concerns raised over access to the hospital’s internal computer system, and said that an independent hospital ombudsman should be set up.

In a statement, the Feeney family said:

We welcome the report and especially the finding that Gerry was not treated with dignity in the last weeks of his life. We do not accept all the findings of the report, some of which have deeply upset some members of our family.
We feel that the report highlights that Beaumont Hospital heavily relies on junior staff, intern student nurses and agency healthcare assistance to carry the weight of the overall day to day running of the hospital.

The family added that they are “deeply disturbed” over an alleged lack of management and staff accountability on the wards.

The family also thanked Stephen McMahon from the Irish Patients Association “who has tirelessly advocated on behalf of the Feeney family”.

A statement from Beaumont Hospital read:

In February 2015, following a complaint from a member of a patient’s family, Beaumont Hospital initiated an independent review carried out by a team including medical and nursing experts and a member of a patient advocacy body.

“The hospital was seriously concerned about the issues raised by the family and agreed with them the terms of reference for the review.

“The Hospital has also offered to meet with the family to provide assurance that the issues arising from the investigation are being dealt with at a senior level.

The recommendations included:

  • The need for additional safeguards to the Beaumont Hospital Information System.
  • A review of Hospital Discharge Policy to include a requirement that a patient should not be discharged until it is authorised in writing in the clinical records by a Senior Clinical Decision Maker.
  • The need to remind staff of ward policy on staffing requirements in cohort bays.
  • The recording of names and areas of responsibility to be extended to Health Care Assistants.
  • The production and distribution of a leaflet on advice to patients and relatives when washing clothes to reduce the risk of infection.

Read: Union wants Beaumont Hospital to go off call as 41 people are on trolleys >

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Nicky Ryan

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