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HSE Chief Issues Apology Over Limerick Hospital Failure Leading to Teenage Girl’s Untreated Death

Dublin: Following the release of Chief Justice Frank Clarke’s report on the tragic death of Efa Johnston from meningitis due to delayed treatment, Head of the Health Service Executive (HSE), Bernard Gloster, has publicly admitted fault and extended apologies to the Johnston family. He acknowledged the health service’s failure, directly linking it to the loss of the 16-year-old girl’s life, emphasising that he has no further comments on the matter. Prime Minister Simon Harris has expressed readiness to meet with Aoife’s family should they desire.

Efa Johnston, hailing from Shannon, Clare, passed away on December 19, 2022, after attending Limerick University Hospital’s emergency department two days prior with suspected sepsis. However, due to prolonged wait times, she did not receive timely treatment.

Clarke’s report does not attribute responsibility for the death, as confirmed by the HSE. While no individuals are singled out in the report, the issue of accountability will be addressed without hesitation.

Dr. Jim Gray has criticised the emergency department at UHL, branding it as perilous. Gloster countered, stating that despite overcrowding, significant improvements have been made to enhance safety.

In the aftermath of Johnston’s tragic demise, UHL has bolstered its staff numbers, including junior doctors, emergency consultants, and nurses. Additional safety measures have been implemented to assuage public concerns.

Gloster noted that, aside from bed shortages, there were other underlying issues. Furthermore, decisions regarding the potential reopening of emergency departments in Ennis and Nenagh St. John’s remain pending.

Prime Minister Harris expressed disappointment with UHL’s performance, despite having more doctors than any other ED in Ireland. He anticipates receiving a comprehensive report from retired Chief Justice Frank Clarke next month, addressing matters concerning UHL. Harris emphasised that further action will be taken based on the report’s recommendations, which are expected to outline steps for consideration in relation to the hospital.

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