Farrell v South Eastern Health Board

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr. Justice Barron
Judgment Date24 July 1991
Neutral Citation1991 WJSC-HC 1935
Docket NumberNo. 65/1990,[1990 No. 65 J.R.]
CourtHigh Court
Date24 July 1991

1991 WJSC-HC 1935

THE HIGH COURT

No. 65/1990
FARRELL v. SOUTH EASTERN HEALTH BOARD
Judicial Review

BETWEEN

PAUL J. FARRELL AND CASHEL HOSPITAL ACTION COMMITTEELIMITED
APPLICANT
v.
THE SOUTH EASTERN HEALTH BOARD
RESPONDENT

Synopsis:

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Health

Health board - Member - Views - Expression - Prevention - Fair procedures - Resolution of board - Validity - Chief executive officer being a servant of board - Statute - Powers - Exercise - (1990/65 JR - Barron J. - 24/7/91) - [1991] 2 I.R. 291

|Farrell v. South Eastern Health Board|

NATURAL JUSTICE

Fair procedures

Statute - Powers - Exercise - Health Board - Resolution - Validity - Member of board - Expression of views - Prevention - (1990/65 JR - Barron J. - 24/7/91) - [1991] 2 I.R. 291

|Farrell v. South Eastern Health Board|

STATUTE

Powers

Exercise - Health Board - Resolution - Validity - Member's views - Expression - Prevention - Fair procedures - (1990/65 JR - Barron J. - 24/7/91) - [1991] 2 I.R. 291

|Farrell v. South Eastern Healh Board|

1

Judgment of Mr. Justice Barrondelivered the 24th day of July 1991.

2

The background to this case is a controversy as to whether or not the acute general hospital services for the South County Tipperary area should be located in Cashel or in Clonmel. This general debate has been going on since the year 1975. In that year the Government issued a Regional Hospital Development Plan. Dealing with the South Eastern Health Board region the then Minister for Health decided that there should be a general hospital located in Waterford, in Kilkenny, in Wexford and also in either Cashel or inClonmel. Until 1988 local preference had always been given to Cashel. However the Department of Health refused to implement such wishes upon the ground of expense. In the same year the Applicant became concerned that perhaps the facilities which up to then had been intended for Gashel might well be sited in St. Joseph's Hospital Clonmel. His principal concern at that stage was that the latter hospital did not comply with fire safety requirements and that the cost of rendering it safe would be prohibitive. At a meeting of the Board in May 1988 he sought a fire safety report on this hospital. In June 1988 he was furnished with a document which set out a list of the requirements at the hospital but which did not examine the defects in the hospitalbuildings.

3

In the year 1989 the medical consultants in the area of whom the Applicant was one prepared a plan which would enable the accident and emergency services for the area to be provided in St. Joseph's Hospital Clonmel. The Applicant alone opposed the plan. He was still concerned about the level of fire safety standards at Clonmel. When consideration of this report came before the Board in April 1989, he again expressed his concern about the level of fire safety standards at St. Joseph's Hospital Clonmel. He pressed for an up to date report on this matter. In November 1989 he obtained a copy of a fire report obtained in 1982 which suggested that major structural changes would be required in Clonmel to bring the hospital up to modern standards. No up to date report was obtained. At a meeting in the same month he again expressed dissatisfaction in relation to the fire safety situation in Clonmel and the fact that no fresh reports had been furnished to him. He alsoraised the question of the costings of the proposals if they were to be implemented and as a result Mr. McQuillan the Chief Executive Officer was asked by the Board to prepare costings. Consideration of the proposals was adjourned to a meeting to be held on the 8th Februry1990.

4

No fresh fire report was furnished to the Applicant before this meeting and in order to force the Respondent to obtain such a report proceedings were brought in the High Court. On the 5th February 1990 an Interlocutory Motion seeking a mandatory injunction requiring the Board to furnish to the Plaintiffs in that action inter alia a fire report relating to the Clonmel Hospital was heard by Mr. Justice Blayney. That application was unsuccessful, Blayney J. taking the view that it was open to the Applicant to obtain his own report. In an Affidavit sworn by Mr. McQuillan in support of the Respondent's case on that Motion the Applicant became aware for the first time that a fire report had been obtained from John Greaney a fire safety consultant on the 2nd February 1990. Following the refusal of his application the Applicant on the same day orally requested from Mr. McQuillan permission for a fire expert to inspect the Clonmel Hospital on his behalf with a view to preparing a report. This permission was refused. At the meeting of the Board on the 8th February 1990 the Applicant again requested permission for a fire expert to inspect the Clonmel Hospital on his behalf and to report upon its suitability in relation to fire hazards. This permission was refused by a majority of 20 to four with some members abstaining.

5

Following on this refusal the Applicant again applied to the Court on this occasion for liberty to obtain aninspection of the hospital premises at Clonmel by a consultant fire expert. This Order was granted by Blayney J. on the 23rd February 1990. Following on this Order the Applicant made a request that staff members of the Board and representatives of the County Council should be present at the inspection of the hospital by his expert. This request was declined by the Chief Executive Officer of the Board on the advice of the Board's Solicitors. The relevant portion of this letter which was dated the 5th March 1990 was as follows:-

6

2 "1. SEHB neither the CEO or the programme manager will be present. My instructions are that the hospital administrator Mr. Seamus Healy and the SEHB fire consultant Mr. John Greaney will both be present for the Board's purposes. I am instructed to formally refuse copies of fire drills and plans.

7

2. No personnel from the County Council will be available for theinspection."

8

This letter contradicted the wishes of the County Council which on the same date the 5th March 1990 had unamimously agreed that every co-operation should be given by the Council to the Applicant in the course of his inspection.

9

The inspection directed by the Court took place on the 7th March 1990. Mr. Greaney did not attend. The only persons present were the Applicant, Mr. John Connolly a fire consultant, Doctor Paul Stollard an English fire expert and the Hospital Administrator Mr. Seamas Healy. The latter showed the Applicant and his two experts through the hospital but would neither discuss fire safety with them nor would he allow discussion of fire safety with other hospital staff.

10

The Applicant received the reports from his two experts on the following day but had no opportunity to circulate the members of the Board before its meeting being held on that day with copies of these reports. Doctor Stollard's report alone ran to 45 pages. Both reports were critical of the Fire Safety Regulations at the Clonmel Hospital. The Applicant had some copies of...

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