McElwee Report Published

 ‘Review Inquiry on any matter pertaining to Child Protection issues concerning Dr N. McElwee’published today by HSE

The HSE today April 15th published a report looking at the application of Child Protection policies, guidelines and procedures by relevant former Midland Health Board personnel in relation to an incident in 2004 which involved Dr. McElwee while he was on a study visit to Amsterdam.

When the incident occurred, Dr Mc Elwee was employed in the Centre for Child and Youth Care Learning, Athlone Institute of Technology. Dr Mc Elwee was not and never has been an employee of the Midlands Health Board or the HSE.  He was engaged in a research project on drug use in Athlone and Portlaoise. This project was facilitated by the former Midlands Health Board through its involvement with the Midlands Regional Drugs Task Force. 

The incident led to a criminal conviction with Dr. McElwee receiving a suspended prison sentence and a fine from the Dutch Authorities in September 2005.

In commissioning the Report the HSE sought to establish, among other details, the degree to which Child Protection policies, guidelines and procedures, as set out in the Child Care Act, 1991 and in Children First – theNational Guidelines on Child Welfare and Protection, were adhered by former Midland Health Board personnel when they became aware of the incident which took place in Amsterdam.

The Report states that the relevant personnel who became aware of the incident did not inform the designated child protection and social work personnel in accordance with the Children First Guidelines.

The HSE is actively involved on an ongoing basis in working with other public bodies to achieve effective collaboration in the implementation of child protection policies and procedures.  Currently the HSE, along with other stakeholders, is participating in a review of the Children First Guidelines and its implementation which is being undertaken by the Office of the Minister for Children.  The HSE is committed to using the outcome of the review to address any areas for improvement identified. 

The Report is being referred to the HSE’s Human Resources Directorate to determine what, if any, implications there are under the HSE’s HR policies.

The report was prepared by Mr. Conal Devine, Management Consultant, and Mr. Eoin Rush, Social Work and Child Protection Consultant. 

The HSE wishes to thank Mr Devine and Mr Rush and all those who participated in assisting them in establishing the facts and producing this report.

The HSE is committed to addressing the recommendations set out in the Review.  

 

Mr Jim Breslin, National Director, HSE emphasised today that:

“The HSE is committed to effective and ongoing training in the application of child protection guidelines and all times seeks to create a high level of awareness and good practice within the health services and other relevant organisations in this regard.  The HSE provides child protection training for staff in the health service and those in working in relevant voluntary and community groups.  Support is also provided to other public agencies training staff in this area.  

 

“The learning from this report will feed into our ongoing evaluation of how we deliver our childcare services and specifically towards the HSE’s input into the current review of the Children First Guidelines. Currently the HSE, along with other stakeholders, is participating in a review of the Children First Guidelines and its implementation which is being undertaken by the Office of the Minister for Children.  The HSE is committed to using the outcome of the review to address any areas for improvement identified.”

Ends

 

Note to Editor’s on HSE Response to Recommendations:

The Report sets out a series of recommendations which the HSE commits to addressing, as follows:

 

  • Children First.

Following the launch of the Children First guidelines in 1999, the health system put in place a comprehensive range of measures and procedures to achieve good child protection systems and practices.  As well as significant increase in personnel and services, very significant resources have been deployed in the development of information, advice and training functions.  The HSE is actively involved on an ongoing basis in working with other public bodies to achieve effective collaboration in the implementation of child protection policies and procedures.  Currently the HSE, along with other stakeholders, is participating in a review of the Children First Guidelines and its implementation which is being undertaken by the Office of the Minister for Children.  The HSE is committed to using the outcome of the review to address any areas for improvement identified. 

  • Information Exchange related to Child Protection

Information collection and exchange in relation to chid protection is currently provided for in law, including within the Protection For Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998.   Further legal authority for enhanced levels of exchange of information over and above that currently provided for – in particular so-called “soft” information - is being examined, including as part of the work of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children.

  • Internal Audit

The HSE’s National Internal Audit Directorate is to initiate an investigation into the arrangements entered into by the former Midland Health Board with Dr. McElwee for the funding of research to determine whether they complied with procurement policies and protocols that prevailed at the time.

  • Training

The HSE supports comprehensive, ongoing training in the application of child protection guidelines and generally promotes awareness and good practice within the health services and other relevant organisations.  On an ongoing basis the HSE provides child protection training for staff in the health service and those in working in relevant voluntary and community groups.  Support is also provided to other public agencies training staff in this area.  In response to the report a review of training available on child protection matters will be undertaken, with a view to ensuring compulsory child protection training for senior managers.

  • Testimonials

The practice of HSE staff providing testimonials and endorsements, supporting professional practices, on behalf of the HSE without authorisation is to stop.

  • Staff Vetting by An Garda Siochana

The HSE will be building on the significant improvements which have occurred in recent years in staff vetting procedures and recognised in the Report.  The improvements already achieved, in association with the Garda Vetting Unit, include the extension of Garda vetting to all new recruits to the HSE, key voluntary providers and pre-schools.  The HSE has established a dedicated national unit to liaise with the Garda Vetting Unit and to ensure all policies and procedures are followed.  The Report also notes that Garda vetting of new recruits has been extended to the education sector, including the third level sector.  The HSE will progress the Report’s recommendations on vetting in relation to staff, working with children or vulnerable adults, who are returning from career breaks and staff employed before mandatory vetting procedures were introduced.

Ends

Last updated on: 15 / 04 / 2008