Under the clinical indemnity scheme, all health care organisations are required to have in place systems to collect information on clinical incidents. Nationally, almost 26,000 incidents were reported in 2003. In the North Eastern Health Board 2,500 incidents were reported in the Louth-Meath hospital group, and 750 were reported in the Cavan-Monaghan hospital group. Of these 750 incidents, the board's risk adviser recommended that the views of a consultant be obtained on 15 cases treated in the department of surgery in Cavan General Hospital. Accordingly, the board's medical adviser was requested to carry out a review in this regard.
On 4 March last, the board published the medical adviser's report which contained a number of recommendations with regard to surgical services at the hospital. I am informed that the medical adviser met the relevant staff at the hospital to discuss his recommendations, as well as those made by the director of surgical affairs at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, who has been advising the board on the configuration of surgical services at the hospital. Arising from these discussions, I understand that agreement has been reached on a number of key issues, including the implementation of Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland proposals relating to general and surgical audit. This will involve regular audit meetings held by the department of surgery and a monthly review of the process, involving the medical adviser.
I met yesterday the chief executive officer of the board and the board's medical adviser to discuss the position at Cavan General Hospital and in particular the findings and recommendations in the medical adviser's recent report. The issues raised in the medical adviser's report are being addressed as a priority by the board, with a view to ensuring the provision of a comprehensive and safe range of services across the Cavan-Monaghan hospital group.
I indicated to the board that I would be supportive of any plans put forward by the board to increase the volume of appropriate elective surgery within the Cavan-Monaghan hospital group, consistent with the implementation of the recommendations put forward by the medical adviser and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. I was assured by the board that all necessary steps are being taken to ensure the provision of a high quality, accessible and safe service to the people of Cavan and Monaghan. I was assured of the board's confidence that, as a result of the implementation of these recommendations at the hospital, emergency on call surgical services will continue to be provided at Cavan General Hospital.
The board held interviews yesterday for the recruitment of a fourth surgeon at Cavan, and is confident that an early appointment will be made to augment the existing surgical complement at the hospital. The board is committed to ensuring that there is a joint approach to the provision of hospital services across the Cavan-Monaghan group, and is actively working to ensuring agreement on this issue on both sites. I fully support this approach, and will continue to liaise with the board on the implementation of the various recommendations to effect the delivery of an appropriate range of services on a group basis to the population of Cavan and Monaghan.