Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

19.56 19 Jul 2021


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The review into the Beacon Hospital vaccine controversy is "not good enough", a Fine Gael Senator says.

Regina Doherty says there are "never any consequences" in Ireland for such incidents - something she believes undermines the public's faith in the delivery of key services.

She was speaking after the Beacon Hospital published an independent review of the incident.

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On March 23rd, the Beacon Hospital vaccinated 20 teachers from the St Gerard’s private school in Bray, after 20 'leftover' AstraZeneca vaccines were at risk of going to waste.

The review found the decision to contact the Bray school was taken by hospital CEO Michael Cullen alone "in the mistaken belief that the risk of doses being wasted entitled Beacon to administer the doses to anyone who was available".

The hospital today says it has full confidence in Mr Cullen, saying the decision to offer the vaccines to teachers was incorrect but "made in good faith".

On The Hard Shoulder, Senator Doherty said the whole controversy and this new report is a "classic example of the Irish way".

She argued: "Something happens, there’s outrage, and there’s a report or review that doesn’t come back for a couple of months.

“That review puts the hands up and says ‘yes, we made a mistake, but we did it for the right reason’ and it quietly goes into the ether. There are never any consequences, except what is a massive consequence - a reduction in trust in the body politic, or state services.

“There were [other] standby clinics for the Beacon… where they gave vaccinations to GPs, local creche staff… what was different about this particular amount of vaccines?

“The whole report glosses over whether there were actually any vaccines wasted during the couple of months [of the vaccine programme in the Beacon]? It doesn’t say in the report… but it does say - and this is really worrying - there was no written contract between the HSE and Beacon.”

Senator Doherty says she's sure the staff of Beacon did indeed do a great job during the vaccine programme in the hospital.

However, she said there are still questions to be answered about the incident in question.

She argued: "We have this lovely report that says how wonderful the vaccine rollout was in the Beacon Hospital, notwithstanding the little matter of the 20 misused vaccines for St Gerard's. It’s not good enough.

“There are now more questions to be answered than there was before the review was done, and there have to be consequences. In this country, there are never consequences and it’s not good enough.”

She argued that Health Minister Stephen Donnelly needs to be as “decisive today as he was” the day he ended the Beacon's vaccine programme in the wake of the initial controversy.

Main image: Beacon Hospital (left, photo: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie) and  Regina Doherty (right, photo: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie)

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