In its statement the HSE calls media reports "exaggerated and speculative" and says that the media "were likely to cause unnecessary anxiety for some patients and their families".
It says that the tests under consideration were carried out "over the last number of years" and were "not related to breast services, mammograms, ultrasounds, CT scans or MRI scans".
So here we go again. All is fine in HSE land, no one has anything to worry about, and the only ones who get things wrong are the media. One really wonders if those people inside the HSE live entirely on a different planet, or if they have the same attitude towards the common people as Robert Mugabe. As long as they deny problems, they don't exist. And if there is something not right, it is always only "a small number of cases".
Everyone in this country knows that our Health Service is shambolic and worse than equivalent services in many much poorer countries.
The government and the HSE waste huge amounts of money, but most of it ends in the pockets of bureaucrats and consultants, while Irish patients are condemned to more and more suffering and third world medical standards.
This country is now awash with money, and even though there is certainly a slowdown of the economy in sight, the government's coffers are still full. What is missing is not money, but people who are able to spend it well, manage budgets properly and put the emphasis on what the Health Service is supposed to do: to care for the sick, disabled and needy.On Saturday thousands of angry and concerned people from all over Ireland met in Dublin and joined a protest march, which was organised by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, medical and nursing organisations and families affected by the superbug MRSA. They made it very clear how they feel about the HSE and the state of medical services on the Emerald Isle.
They also vented loudly their anger with Health Minister Mary Harney and her permanent incompetence.
But did it make one bit of a difference? Probably not. For that the number of demonstrators for a decent health service and against the shambolic HSE and incompetent and cynical government would have to be much larger. 100,000 demonstrators on the streets could have caused a real stir in the warm and safe offices of ministers and TDs. But this is Ireland, and no matter how bad things are, few people are bothered to stand up and be counted.
If this were France, there would have been at least 100,000 people demonstrating in Dublin on Saturday, and thousands would gather outside Leinster House and various hospitals around the country in protest every day, until something real is done and conditions improve. So, sadly, the Dublin rally will not change anything. As good and proper as it was, and as much one has to salute everyone who turned out despite the weather, one march alone is not enough. There need to be many more, in Dublin and other places, and they have to convey the message that we are not going away until we get a proper Health Service.
Mary Harney was not even in Dublin on Saturday. She went instead to the Irish Medical Organisaton's annual conference in Killarney.
There she did not have a very friendly reception either, but with her usual habit to ignore facts and public opinion, she just rambled on with her old mantra that "everything is going to be better soon".
And reacting to Saturday's protest march in Dublin, one of Harney's ministerial PR people said that "€ 1 billion of extra money will be spent on the Health Service this year".
Is that all she has to say? Money does not cure people, and it does not reduce waiting lists. Only if it is spent properly and managed well it will have a positive impact. Going by the experience of previous years, there is no chance for that. We still have the same under-staffed hospitals with a shortage of beds, the same people running the over-staffed HSE, and the same incompetent and arrogant Minister for Health who can and will not accept the facts. So if we want to see a change, we will need to have a lot more protest marches, with a lot more people taking part. I am waiting already for the next one, but somehow I am not too optimistic.
The Emerald Islander