Beacon: Hospital and school need to 'volunteer some sort of atonement'

There have been calls for the chief executive of the Beacon Hospital to resign after it emerged t...

09.11 27 Mar 2021

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Beacon: Hospital and school ne...

Beacon: Hospital and school need to 'volunteer some sort of atonement'


09.11 27 Mar 2021

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There have been calls for the chief executive of the Beacon Hospital to resign after it emerged that "leftover vaccines" were given to 20 teachers from a private school.

Labour leader Alan Kelly has called on Michael Cullen, the CEO of the Dublin hospital, to step down over his "scandalous" actions.

It has since been reported that Mr Cullen personally phoned his children's private school to offer COVID-19 vaccines to staff.


The Irish Daily Mail reports today that he made the call to St Gerard's School in Bray on Tuesday.

The Beacon apologised yesterday for vaccinating 20 teachers and staff at the school with "leftover" doses.

In a statement, the Dublin hospital confirmed there were spare doses that had to be used at short notice, and some were given to teachers.

Mr Cullen "sincerely apologised for the upset that this decision has caused" and said he recognised "that the decision that was made was not in line with the sequencing guidelines in place from the HSE".

It was later revealed that crèche workers also received so-called leftover vaccines from the Beacon.

Beacon Hospital The Beacon Hospital in Sandyford, Dublin is seen in January 2021. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov /

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh today, Dr Ray Walley, a GP and member of the GP Expert Advisory Group on COVID-19, said: "What happened was wrong, I think everybody accepts that.

"The overall ethos of the programme has to be based on the vaccines being administered to those most at risk of disease and death, which is the criteria set down by NIAC and it has to be based on equity."

He explained that there are six doses in each vial of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and there is a six-hour window to use it.

He added that, in his experience, there are always back-up lists in practices and mass vaccination centres in case there are leftover doses.

"The day before, we always ensure we have a substantial number of back-up names and numbers to ring and that has always worked best in the GP practices and the mass vaccination centres," Dr Walley said.

"It is something which is crystal clear and we ensure we adhere to the guidelines or we put them back into the cold chain if they're not out of the bottle."

The GP said the HSE needs to engage with the Beacon and people need to be reminded that this process will only work on the basis of equity.

"A degree of transparency needs to be provided on this because there are patients who should have got this vaccine and will be very, very annoyed they didn't get it before other individuals who are not on the high-risk list," he added.

Speaking to the same programme, Phillip Watt, Chairperson of the Irish Donor Network and CEO of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland said "it really is very undermining for this type of thing to happen".

"It's just so disappointing that two institutions, a school and a hospital, have not adhered to the standards and principles set out by the HSE," he said.

"I know people will say it's only 20 people and 20 vials and so on, but I think it's the principle involved and I think we need explanations from both institutions involved."

Mr Watt explained that many in the Cystic Fibrosis community have been cocooning for the past year, some of whom have had to quit their jobs, so the Beacon revelations are "really raw" for them.

A nurse prepares a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Credit: Carlos Guzman/eyepix via ZUMA Wire

He welcomed the fact that medically vulnerable people have been moved up the priority list for vaccinations.

However, he said: "I really think the school and the hospital need to do more, maybe to volunteer some sort of atonement or some sense of acknowledgement that wrongdoing has been done."

Mr Watt suggested a special fundraising campaign could be undertaken by the school to reflect that yesterday was Daffodil Day and "to acknowledge the wrong that has been done".

"I'm not in the space of asking for people's heads and asking people to resign, I think they will acknowledge that wrong has been done," he said.

Main image: File photo of the Beacon Hospital in Sandyford in Dublin. Credit: Sasko Lazarov /

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