Yesterday we heard of the tragic case of a woman given the all-clear and then diagnosed as having breast cancer. I have listened to the Taoiseach for long enough and on many occasions he stated that the people of Ireland should thank him for the health service. The Taoiseach and the Minister for Health and Children have repeatedly referred to the sum of €14 billion spent on the health service.
When was the Minister for Health and Children first notified of difficulties with the breast cancer service in Portlaoise hospital? How can the Taoiseach, after ten and a half years in office, stand over a systems failure in Portlaoise whereby only one radiologist signed off on each mammogram? By any standards, those of a centre of excellence or elsewhere, mammograms are signed off by more than one radiologist. This is a systems failure over which the Taoiseach presides, yet he says people should thank him for the state of the health service.
Eight women, as far as we know, in the midlands were misdiagnosed because of that systems failure. Despite the repeated assertions of Minister after Minister, that is where the blame lies. Government policy is outlined by the Government, namely, Fianna Fáil, the Progressive Democrats, the Green Party and the Independents. The Taoiseach has allowed a situation to arise whereby people are leaderless in terms of integrity in the health service. What people who are not trained in the medical area want is integrity of system and trust in that system so that if they are obliged to seek treatment, it will give them the very best chance of survival.
I will ask my two questions again. When was the Minister for Health and Children first notified of difficulties in respect of the system at Portlaoise hospital? How can the Taoiseach stand over a systems failure as blatant as that which arose at Portlaoise and under which only one radiologist signed off on each mammogram?