HSE boss says breach of procedure by Beacon Hospital was a ‘real body blow’
29th March 2021
HSE CHIEF EXECUTIVE Paul Reid has said the breach in procedure by Beacon Hospital in providing vaccines to a private school was a “real body blow”.© Sasko Lazarov
Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme, Reid said there are very clear guidelines around back-up lists and how excess vaccines are distributed.
The story has generated a lot of reaction and anger from the public, and also within the HSE, said Reid.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said yesterday that vaccination operations at the Beacon Hospital are to be suspended after it emerged that the hospital gave jabs to teachers at a private school in Co Wicklow this week.
The Beacon Hospital made the HSE aware of what had happened on Thursday, Reid said.
“We immediately communicated that it was a complete breach of any sequencing, of all of the processes, of all of the direction from ourselves,” he said.
The Irish Daily Mail reported on Friday that the children of the CEO of the Beacon Hospital attend the fee-paying school, St Gerard’s in Bray.
There was “no rationale by which teachers should have been vaccinated in this case”, he added.
The Beacon Hospital has been heavily criticised for stepping outside the protocol.
The private hospital is currently being used as a hub to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers.
In a statement on Friday the Beacon said 1,096 HSE staff were vaccinated at the hospital on Tuesday, but that there were over 200 no-shows to scheduled appointments as a result of people being double booked at another vaccination centre the Aviva Stadium.
The hospital said it had liaised with the HSE, and that the majority of excess vaccines were subsequently used for HSE staff who were redirected to the hospital that afternoon.
“However, late on Tuesday evening there were still 20 leftover vaccines drawn up that needed to be used within a very short period of time,” a spokesperson for the hospital said.
The vaccination roll-out is publicly funded and everyone involved takes it as a “great privilege”, said Reid.
For that privilege to be breached in the way it was by the Beacon Hospital has caused a lot out anger, he said.
Reid said alternative locations are now being found, stating that there is capacity in the Citywest complex and the Aviva Stadium.
He said there are very clear guidelines at all vaccination centres as to how they should manage their day, stating that there is a clear direction on having a back up list, as well as advice on ensuring people on the back up list are made aware that they need to be available.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the decision to give surplus vaccines to a private school was “such a slap in the face to so many people”.
He said many people have vulnerable family members and are still awaiting vaccine. Coveney added that the Board of Management at the Beacon Hospital has a responsibility to hold individuals responsible.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said yesterday what happened was wrong and a breach of trust. “Behaviour of this sort undermines confidence in the vaccination programme,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he would be interested to hear if the hospital explored any other alternative groups before making the decision to give the vaccine to teachers in a private school.
On the wider issue of the vaccination programme, Reid said by the end of the today, 800,000 vaccines will have been administered.