Dignity4Patients funding threat

THE future of Louth-based charity Dignity4Patients, which supports patients who have suffered sexual abuse by healthcare employees, is in “limbo” after its funding was slashed.

THE future of Louth-based charity Dignity4Patients, which supports patients who have suffered sexual abuse by healthcare employees, is in “limbo” after its funding was slashed.

The charity’s funding has been cut to just e69,000 - less than 50 per cent of what it was last year, according to Dignity4Patients.

Dignity4Patients was founded by Bernadette Sullivan, a nurse who was the ‘whistleblower’ that helped disclose the alleged sexual abuse of patients in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.

Since its formation Dignity4Patients have worked with patients who have suffered sexual assault by health care employees throughout Ireland.

The majority of patient victms represented by the charity are from Louth, followed by Meath, Cavan and Monaghan in that order.

“Dignity4Patients are committed to meeting the needs of patient victims however over the past three years, due to the volume of numbers affected and being the only organisation addressing the sexual abuse of patients in any meaningful way, we have been struggling to cope,” said Dignity 4 Patients Executive Director Bernadette Sullivan.

“The limited funding that we have received this year will have an untold impact on patient victims and furthermore we have been specifically instructed that the funding is to be spent on a helpline and website.

“We believe it is impractical and even unethical to offer a helpline without any follow on care. This is an insult not only to Dignity4Patients and the valuable work that we do, but it shows an unfathomable lack of empathy and care for the specialized support that is required by patient victims of sexual abuse.”

Founded in 2008, Dignity4Patients evolved from being a small support group to being a comprehensive professional service which was nominated for an Irish Healthcare Award in 2010.

Dignity4Patients secured funding from the Department of Health in the form of a one-off payment from the National Lottery Fund in 2010.

The funding was allocated specifically for Dignity4Patients to work with and support those involved in the Drogheda Review relating directly to the Michael Shine case.

Shine, the disgraced former consultant surgeon at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda was struck off the medical register for professional misconduct in 2008, following an inquiry.