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HSE regret but no apology

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Karl Henry with a photo of his late wife Ann, in his home at  Westfields, Ennis.  Photograph by John Kelly

KARL Henry has received expressions of regret from the HSE over his wife Ann’s death but no apology.
However, he views the settlement reached in the High Court as “an admission of sorts” in that the HSE “sees itself as in some way liable for what has happened”.
“I was not concerned there was no admission of liability. The HSE doesn’t pay out a sum of money for something which they have no hand, act or part in,” he suggested.
Mr Henry admitted to The Clare Champion that he had found himself in difficult financial circumstances as a result of being out of work for long periods following his wife’s death.
The Ennis-based Revenue Commissioners employee pointed out that the settlement “wouldn’t allow him to give up work” and “walk happily down the street”.
“It is a sum of money. It is just a cold figure. It doesn’t mean anything. I could never put a value on my wife’s life or attempt to put a value on her life. It is some sort of recognition that wrong did occur.
“Does this money mean anything? Not a thing in the world. It will enable me to take a chip off various financial commitments. It may sound like a lot of money but it is not. Nothing can bring back my wife. I would prefer if the HSE could keep its money and give back my wife but unfortunately that is not possible,” he said.
He acknowledged the Revenue Commissioners, who were very supportive, had given him a lot of time off work to deal with his wife’s death. A lot of that absence was unpaid after the statutory period had elapsed.
Last March, he returned to work on a more full-time basis from 9am to 3pm, which equates to a four-day week. He had returned to his job previously for different stints but found he couldn’t concentrate on anything.
“I had lost interest in life. I am thankful that Ciarán was there because he helped bring me back to reality and helped me to fulfil the pledge I had made to my wife to carry on raising him the way she had.
“There were very difficult times. Sitting in my sitting room looking up at my wife’s photograph, it brought tears to my eyes. Now, looking at her photograph brings a smile to my face. I can now talk about Ann in glowing terms without tears.
“She was very much part of my life. That will never change. It will never die. Today I am in a place that allows me to cope but I will not forget about Ann. I have to try and move on in life and bring Ciarán to a level where he can cope in life, which he is doing very well at the moment.
“I am not going to hold any grudges. I am sure if the people involved could turn back the clock, I am sure they would only be too happy to do so.
“At the time you feel your life is over, you don’t want to go on. We have had a lot of tragic events in Ennis over the last few years. I don’t think negatively like that but you would be sorely tested,” he conceded.
Mr Henry said it has been impossible to establish what went wrong in terms of his wife’s care.
“Nobody knows what went wrong. The entire system didn’t seem to work. There was no communication between medical people, there was no follow-up on reports, there was a backlog of x-rays, there was a shortage of staff.
“There was a combination of factors that led to my wife’s results being misdiagnosed, which led to her earlier demise. I would hope that lessons have been learned.
“I don’t have the same negative feelings now that I once had towards the HSE. There are some fine people working in the HSE and it is unfortunate there seems to be a culture that is endemic in the organisation where denial and concealment seems to be the order of the day.
“I don’t want to be seen to be over-critical of the organisation. The culture of secrecy caused me a big problem and would do the same for anyone who found themselves in the same situation,” he maintained.


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