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TV presenter Brendan Courtney appointed to Sláintecare implementation council

Sláintecare is the cross-party plan to overhaul the Irish health service over ten years.

Image: Sam Boal

TV PRESENTER BRENDAN Courtney has been appointed to the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council.

Health Minister Simon Harris said the advisory council – which is made up of 23 members from a range of backgrounds, including a number of medical professionals, experts and patient advocates – is a critical element in the implementation of Sláintecare  – which is the cross-party plan to overhaul the Irish health service over ten years.

Last year, Courtney took part in ‘We Need to Talk about Dad‘, a documentary about the difficulty of organising care for his father, who was unable to look after himself following a stroke.

In the documentary, Courtney and his sister discussed how they might care for their dad – including remortgaging their houses in order to pay for nursing home care.

The programme gave an insight into the difficulties people face when caring for the elderly. After visiting a nursing home, Courtney said: “You don’t want to be mean about it because people work really hard at it, but it is depressing.”

Highlighting the difficulties of the Fair Deal scheme 

The programme also highlighted the difficulties in navigating the Fair Deal nursing home support scheme and the fact that it does not cover care in the home.

The lack of supports available for families trying to care for older people, the lack of viable options for home care or step-down care and the difficulties in applying for a nursing home place was also under the spotlight.

Courtney is currently in production with a follow-up documentary, We need to talk about Mam – which looks at aging and retirement in Ireland.

Campaigner and advocate, Roisin Molloy, whose son died 22 minutes after his birth at Portlaoise Hospital, was also appointed to the committee.

Baby Mark died in January 2012 at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise as a result of a number of care and systems failings.

‘Unique insight’ 

The impact of her baby’s avoidable death and her search for the truth thrust Molloy and her husband Mark into the roles of campaigners, advocates and researchers after their story was featured in an RTÉ Investigations Unit report in 2014.

A statement from the Department of Health states that due to her personal experience of grief and rearing a young family, and participating in numerous internal HSE investigations, the coroner’s process, a HIQA investigation, a civil case and an external review of Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise, she has a unique insight into the existing structures and the areas that are not functioning as they should.

“Her work to find the truth about Baby Mark’s death has highlighted many areas that are having a negative impact the health service delivered by the State. Issues such as no managerial accountability, no open disclosure, inadequate and inconsistent investigation processes, no learning from mistakes and the lack of compassion for patients at a time that patients need it most,” it added.

Other members on the committee include, former General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, Liam Doran, Leo Kearns, Chief Executive Officer of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and Dr Eddie Molloy who specialises in strategy, large-scale change and innovation. 

Announcing the membership, the minister said he is delighted to have been able to appoint a diverse group of people with a breadth of experience and expertise in healthcare, governance, change management and leadership. 

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