Suspended Irish radiologist refuses to stay silent

Dr. Martin Schranz, the senior Irish radiologist who was suspended by University Hospital Kerry (UHK) just before Christmas, is not keeping a low profile. He has forcefully put forward his case against management in a lengthy interview posted by a national news website, and he is defiantly continuing to post on social media.

"They (UHK managers) have major staffing issues -- seven posts and I'm the only one there. They can't fill the other six so the only other solution is to privatise the entire department like they did in Ennis and other hospitals," Schranz told Extra.ie in an article posted on 6 January.

He said he thinks it's so hard to fill the other posts due to the reputation of the management team. "All the staff who came to Kerry and then left, they are working in other places in Ireland. Everyone knows what it means to come to Kerry and work with that management. It's not a secret."

Management wants to privatize the radiology department at University Hospital Kerry in Tralee, on the west coast of Ireland, according to Dr. Martin Schranz. Photo courtesy of Michael Diggin / Alamy Stock Photo.Management wants to privatize the radiology department at University Hospital Kerry in Tralee, on the west coast of Ireland, according to Dr. Martin Schranz. Photo courtesy of Michael Diggin / Alamy Stock Photo.

Schranz said that UHK management doesn't want him to leave, but "it wants 'to control me' and the waiting lists ... I want everybody scanned instantly, with a report instantly. There's an ideological conflict there, they won't budge and I won't budge," he told Extra.ie.

Arrival from Malta

The article describes Schranz as "a softly-spoken father-of-six" who came to Ireland from Malta in 1994 to do his specialization at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin. At that time, "there was 'zero interest' in radiology, but it has since 'exploded' due to the dramatic change in diagnostics and technology," he explained.

Schranz also talks about the chain of events that led to his suspension on 22 December, as well as the way the news was broken to him. "I had patients waiting to see me -- it was around 12:30 in the afternoon, peak time. People waiting to be scanned, one waiting on the table for a procedure. But it was 'out, now,' " he told Extra.ie. "It's the kind of treatment you get for gross misconduct, and since then I've been asking them why. It's in my contract that you can't be suspended unless it's gross misconduct or there's an urgent need to protect staff or something like that."

Schranz claims management wants to privatize the entire radiology department. "Scans and x-rays will be done by staff at the hospital but then sent out to companies based in Cork or Galway to be examined remotely before the results are sent back. They've issued tenders to three companies. But they can't move in while I am there. As long as there is an intervention service in the hospital, they can't give the department to a remote company."

Schranz is also continuing to criticize the Health Service Executive (HSE) on his personal account (@martinpschranz) on X, formerly Twitter, which has over 7,000 followers. In a tweet posted on 8 January, Schranz noted that HSE boss Bernard Gloster "allowed the suspension of a doctor by Kerry University Hospital on Christmas Eve with no reason given and with no due process followed."

The HSE has refused to comment on the reasons behind the suspension, stating that it does not comment on private contractual arrangements.

During his suspension, Schranz is focusing on building the Maltese-Irish virtual reality business he has helped to establish. On its website, https://sico.ie/, the company offers to build interactive web animations, virtual characters, and mobile applications. It promises to charge a fixed fee of one euro per minute and to respond to new client enquiries within an hour.

There are strong political, economic, and cultural ties between Ireland and Malta that go back centuries. St Patrick’s Day is celebrated informally in Malta, where it has become popular, especially among the younger generation.

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