Time to end involvement of religious orders in health

Alan Ruddock in the Sunday Times argues that it’s time to end the situation where hospitals in the Irish Republic are run by religious orders.

He deserves great credit for highlighting that the actions of the Catholic-run Mater Hospital’s Ethics Committee in suspending trials of a drug for women with cancer as the patients would have to take contraception was not made on religious grounds but as a reaction to a loss of power.

The Sunday Business Post broke the original story.”Patients are being denied treatment not because elements within the hospital are offended by the mention of contraception, but because a secret group within its ownership structure resents the new statutory regime for approving clinical trials, which has removed from it the power of veto.

“Under an EU directive introduced last year, trials can go ahead in any hospital once they have been approved by the state’s Medicines Board and by one hospital ethics committee. That is our public policy, yet the Mater, which is publicly funded, seeks to subvert it.”

Professor John Crown, internationally recognised for his progressive research into improving the effects of chemotherapy dosage on cancer patients, cited Ruddock’s article on Monday’s Questions And Answers programme on RTE.

Crown, who brought the Mater decision to a head by calling it “ultimately sectarian”, and who is arguing for impartial representation on the Ethics Committees of the Irish Republic’s hospitals, said he was previously unaware of this possible reason for the Mater’s decision.

Although not normally a fan, Ruddock’s sharp piece of work here has struck a blow for an impartial, independent and progressive Irish health service.