Denis Naughten will seek the suspension of proceedings in Dáil Éireann today (Wednesday) to discuss the serious claims that the Department of Health compiled dossiers on the families of autistic children who have taken cases against the State over supports and services.
The Roscommon Galway TD has written to the Ceann Comhairle seeking a clear and unambiguous statement from the Minister for Health in light of the fact that such a disclosure could have very serious implications for access to medical care in this country.
Mr. Naughten is also seeking to find out if this practice was isolated to the case of these particular children and their legal case or, in light of the vociferous defence of the practice by the Departments concerned, was this approach to gathering personal information commonly used in other cases, including medical negligence cases.
“Is it the case that children or adults, including the children impacted by Pandemrix narcolepsy cases, the audiology misdiagnosis of children in the West or cervical cancer misdiagnosis cases, are being managed in a similar manner?” asked Denis Naughten.
“Clearly what this protected disclosure has again highlighted is an institutional determination to defend court cases rather than address the concerns of victims of a failed policy or misdiagnosis and support vulnerable children who are reliant on State services.
“The focus of the State’s approach is to defend the existing Departments’ policy approach at all costs instead of acting in the interest of the citizens it is supposed to serve, in this instance, young children,” said Denis Naughten.
“It is absolutely disgusting that it seems at least one use of the information collated was ‘to strategise, to understand the mindset and mood of the families – to help them figure out if it would be a good time to approach them to withdraw their legal cases’.
“In light of the claim that this personal information was used for such a purpose, I believe that it must be dealt with on the floor of Dáil Éireann in advance of the Easter recess.
“We need a full and frank statement from all relevant Government Departments on how such cases are being handled and if the State Claims Agency is fully aware of, or employing, such practices exposed in last night’s programme.
“This also brings into focus the wider issue of a no-fault compensation scheme for medical negligence and misdiagnosis, which would avoid costly legal cases for many families,” concluded Denis Naughten.