September 2016 | Meán Fómhair 2016

Conferring Ceremony for Graduate Diploma in Risk Management & Quality

Mon, 26 September 16 10:13

Congratulations to the graduates of our Graduate Diploma in Healthcare (Risk Management and Quality) who were conferred with their diplomas on the 6th September 2016 at a conferring ceremony in the UCD Charles Institute. The Dean of Medicine and Head of School, Professor Patrick Murray presented diplomas to a total of 16 students who have completed this highly successful programme which is now in its 21st year.

A total of 388 students have completed the innovative Clinical Risk Management and Quality programme since its inception in 1995. The course was designed and delivered by UCD Forensic & Legal Medicine with support from national and international experts in the field. Many of the programme participants are employed in various roles relating to patient safety and law including senior clinical risk management or quality functions across the Irish health service as well as healthcare professionals, and legal practitioners and those involved in claims management. The programme enjoys the support and input of a number of statutory bodies and stakeholders who also act as lecturers and examiners on the course, including the State Claims Agency (SCA), the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Health Information & Quality Authority (HIQA) and the Medical Council of Ireland.

The master of ceremonies for the evening was academic Programme Director and Co-ordinator Mr Asim Sheikh, Barrister-at-Law and UCD Assistant Professor, whose legal practice and work specialises in clinical negligence and medical/healthcare law. The academic conferring group also comprised Prof Pat Murray (Head of School and Dean of Medicine), Prof Denis Cusack (Professor of Forensic and Legal Medicine) and Dr Cliona McGovern (UCD Assistant Professor) assisted by Ms Danielle Marie (Senior Executive Assistant). We were also delighted to welcome families and friends of the graduating class who have supported them during their studies.

Opening proceedings, Professor Cusack congratulated the assembled graduands and commended the group for the dedication, commitment and persistence that each student brought to this part-time programme. He pointed to the considerable and continued demand for the course; indicative of the increasing focus on patient safety and managing risk and quality in our healthcare systems and highlighted how the emphasis has changed from defensive risk management to proactive patient safety and quality assurance.

Dr Dubhfeasa Slattery, Head of Clinical Risk at the State Claims Agency presented a bursary prize to the top student in the programme, Mr. Conor McCrystal for his project entitled: “Monitoring Dosage System (MDS) Dispensing In Community Pharmacy: Healthcare Solution or Medico-Legal Liability?”

Photographs from conferring ceremony for the 2016 Graduate Diploma in Healthcare Risk Mgt and Quality 2016

As was explained by Asim Sheikh, it has become an annual tradition, utilised to foster key links in this multidisciplinary speciality, to invite a keynote speaker to address the ceremony. The School of Medicine was honoured that this year’s keynote address to the new graduates was given by the Hon. Ms. Justice Mary Irvine, Judge of the Court of Appeal. Past addresses to this ceremony have been given by:

  • Minsters for Health: Micheál Martin and Mary Harney
  • Prof Sir John Lilleyman – UK National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA)
  • Hon. Judge Maureen Harding Clarke
  • Prof Dierdre Madden
  • Dr. Tracey Cooper, HIQA
  • Prof Freddie Woods, Medical Council
  • Dr Peter Lachman, Deputy Medical Director (Patient Safety), Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, external examiner UCD.
  • Hon. Mr Justice John Quirke, President of the Law Reform Commission, also kindly addressed the group in relation to the duties of the expert witness in 2015 as part of the graduate diploma.

Keynote Speaker

Judge Mary Irvine was called to Bar 1978 and called to the Inner Bar in 1992, She specialised in Personal Injury, Healthcare and Medical Negligence and appeared in many of the leading clinical negligence cases. She was appointed judge of the High Court 2007 and appointed head of the Personal Injuries division of the High Court in 2009. She then chaired the Working Group established to advise on the reform of Clinical Negligence litigation and Periodic payments 2010. She was appointed to the Court of Appeal 2014 and she is Editorial Board member of the Medico-legal Journal of Ireland whose current Editor is Asim Sheikh. Her address was on the topic of: “The patient/plaintiff's experience and medical litigation: Reforms, changes and attitudes."

Judge Irvine commenced her talk commenting that the vast majority of plaintiffs would say that the medical litigation process was extremely difficult. She stated that it was a very stressful starting point for plaintiffs and that in our adversarial system, plaintiffs were compelled to go through difficult hurdles of the system with the fear of losing the case and costs being found against them.

She also stated however, that this was also not an easy process for defendants and was extremely stressful for those seeking to defend a medical negligence action against them. Judge Irvine emphasised that it was a reasonably fair system, however the answer to whether it could be improved was clearly in the affirmative.

She indicated that the plaintiffs’ main complaints in relation to the system were generally as follows:

There was a degree of "stonewalling" whereby e.g., plaintiffs found it difficult to obtain documents relating to the medical care; Proceedings took a long time; and, often, it was late in the day in the process of the litigation that some defendants would admit liability.

Judge Irvine reflected on all of these issues and suggested reforms that would assist in this process. The main thrust of her address was in relation to how matters could be improved by the introduction of pre-action protocols (which will commence in relation to non-personal injury actions in October 2016, and thereafter, will be introduced by legislation for medical negligence cases).

The pre-action protocols would allow cases to be managed by the courts to ensure that issues in relation to the case are narrowed at the earliest point in time. Also, evidence to support the claim being made is provided at the commencement of the claim by various witnesses by both the plaintiff and then the defendant which would establish the factual circumstances in the case much earlier than currently transpires. In addition, the relevant expert witnesses would also agree the salient issues as early as possible in the proceedings. Judge Irvine’s views were extremely helpful in understanding the patient’s journey through the medical litigation process and how matters can be improved through some measures and practical reform.

The Head of School of Dean of Medicine, Professor Murray, discussed the importance of the work by the graduates and noted that this year’s ceremony was kindly supported and sponsored by Challenge and by the Beacon Hospital, to whom he expressed his appreciation on behalf of the School. He also thanked all of the supporters of the course and event. In attendance were the CEO of Challenge, Mr. David Walsh and Ms. Ann O’Driscoll, Solicitor and Senior Medico-legal Advisor. Dr. Jennifer Westrup, Section Chief of Oncology and Director of Medical Education in the Beacon Hospital was also in attendance.

Bringing the meeting to a close, both Asim Sheikh and Prof Cusack encouraged the graduates to continue being powerful advocates for culture change and patient safety within their organisations.

Graduate Studies in Risk Management & Quality

For further information about the following courses, please visit the course hub to find out more about:

  • Graduate Diploma in Healthcare (Risk Management and Quality) (more)
  • MSc in Healthcare (Risk Management and Quality) (more)
  • Professional Certificate in Medico-Legal Aspects of Healthcare (more)

Questions and enquiries should be directed to:

Ms. Danielle Marie
Forensic & Legal Medicine
UCD School of Medicine
T: + 353 1 716 6647
W: website