Covid-19: HSE to oversee Beacon Hospital vaccinations after controversy

Covid-19: Hse To Oversee Beacon Hospital Vaccinations After Controversy
Stephen Donnelly said stopping vaccinations at the hospital would be 'cutting off our nose to spite our face'. Photo: Getty Images.
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Additional reporting by Press Association

A senior HSE official is to oversee the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines at the private Beacon Hospital, following controversy over its adherence to the State’s priority list.

The Irish Times reports that the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has told the health service to appoint an official after 20 teachers and staff from a private school were vaccinated there this week.


It has also emerged that childcare workers were vaccinated against Covid-19 at the private hospital earlier in March.

A HSE spokesman said a senior official would work with the Beacon to ensure that on a day-to-day basis the standards set out by the HSE for the operation of the vaccination programme are maintained.

Separately, the Health Minister told RTÉ’s Six One that the hospital’s vaccination of private school staff was “completely unacceptable” but said preventing it from issuing further vaccines would be “counterproductive”.


Mr Donnelly declined to spell out what consequences the hospital might face, but the Labour Party has called on its chief executive to step down.


Mr Donnelly said: “What happened was completely unacceptable. There is absolutely no defence for it whatsoever.

“Not only that, but there are very clear protocols in place to avoid these things happening.”

Asked if there would be consequences, Mr Donnelly replied: “We can certainly look at consequences.”

“But in terms of turning off the vaccination centre or stopping the vaccination centre, ultimately, that would be counterproductive,” he continued.


We would end up punishing people who just want to get vaccinated

“We would end up punishing people who just want to get vaccinated for something that was completely unacceptable, and done by the Beacon Hospital.”

He added: “It is an important part of the vaccination infrastructure for the Dublin area, and the Beacon is doing it at their own cost.

“So by stopping the vaccinations at the Beacon, while I understand it would send a very clear signal, ultimately we will be cutting off our nose to spite our face.


“Because the priority right now has to be to vaccinate people as soon as the vaccines arrive in the country.”

Time pressure

Under the State’s rollout plan, teachers and childcare workers are in the eleventh priority group to receive the vaccine. The vaccine is currently being administered to group four.

Earlier on Friday, the Beacon apologised for its decision to vaccinate school staff, claiming it was made under “time pressure” and admitting the move was not in line with the HSE’s sequencing guidelines.

The Irish Daily Mail reported on Friday that the staff members vaccinated were from fee-charging St Gerard’s School in Co Wicklow.


The hospital said 1,096 HSE staff were vaccinated at its centre on Tuesday. It said there were more than 200 HSE “no shows” to scheduled vaccine appointments as a result of people being double booked by the HSE at the Aviva Stadium.

In a statement, the hospital added: “Beacon Hospital immediately liaised with the HSE, and the majority of these excess vaccines were subsequently used for HSE staff who were redirected to Beacon Hospital throughout the afternoon.

Childcare workers given Covid-19 vaccine at Beacon...
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“However, late on Tuesday evening there were still 20 leftover vaccines drawn up that needed to be used within a very short period of time.

“As this was the AstraZeneca vaccine there were limitations to who this could be administered to.

“In keeping with the zero-wastage policy, a decision was made to administer the leftover vaccine to teachers who were in a position to get to the centre within the exceptionally short time frame required.”

HSE chief executive Paul Reid has said there are “very clear” guidelines which have been published since January and he could not condone the hospital's actions.

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