Suspension of senior Irish radiologist sparks lively debate

A long-serving consultant radiologist in County Kerry has been suspended – and he's convinced this was due to a critical message he shared on social media that went viral, according to a report in the Irish media.

Dr. Martin Schranz told the Irish Examiner he was suspended without notice by University Hospital Kerry (UHK) on 22 December and escorted out of the building. "I don't know the reason for the suspension. It could be a valid reason, and if so then I will accept it and go through the [usual] processes," he said.

He thinks the suspension is linked to a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, posted on 18 December. He shared a photo of an empty drinks vending machine, and he wrote: "The disrespect in @hospital_kerry, you can't even get a cold bottle of water on a 24 hour shift, even if you're parched and you are willing to pay for it. Be kind they tell us."

This tweet posted by Dr. Martin Schranz on 18 December generated 9.4 m views, 28,000 likes, 5,600 retweets, and 1,100 comments. But did it lead to the radiologist's suspension? Courtesy of X, formerly Twitter.This tweet posted by Dr. Martin Schranz on 18 December generated 9.4 m views, 28,000 likes, 5,600 retweets, and 1,100 comments. But did it lead to the radiologist's suspension? Courtesy of X, formerly Twitter.

"When the tweet went out, it went viral and they were just shocked by it," Schranz told the Irish Examiner, noting that he was previously cautioned about social media use. "There could be a reason they have not given me, but it must have been something dramatic to warrant me being paraded down like a criminal through the halls, in front of all my staff."

Schranz, who was born in Malta, has worked for the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) for 30 years, including almost 15 in Tralee. He has publicly highlighted waiting lists, and he offers access to scans through a separate out-of-hours clinic taking general practitioner referrals – although the "vast majority" are public patients, he explained to the Irish Examiner in the article posted on 27 December.

The Irish Examiner claims to have seen documentation showing that UHK managers met with Schranz on 15 December to discuss this out-of-hours clinic. At the meeting, they apparently raised concerns about his health, the hours worked by nonmedical staff, and "excessive" numbers of MRI referrals. Allegedly, they told Schranz: "Your volumes are excessive. I understand your motivation, but you are just trying to play the hero here."

Schranz told the Irish Examiner, "They said I have this hero complex, that 'he wants everything,' but this is not true .... We have to offer a solution, we can't let people wait for their scans. That is something I won't accept."

Dr. Martin Schranz worked at University Hospital Kerry in Tralee, on the west coast of Ireland, for nearly 15 years. Photo courtesy of Gabriel Cassan / Alamy Stock Photo.Dr. Martin Schranz worked at University Hospital Kerry in Tralee, on the west coast of Ireland, for nearly 15 years. Photo courtesy of Gabriel Cassan / Alamy Stock Photo.

The Irish Examiner said it had been told by a hospital spokesperson that UHK "cannot publicly comment on the contractual arrangements relating to any member of staff." It noted that Schranz's union is supporting him in his attempt to overturn the suspension.

Past issues with management

Schranz appears to have had some differences with hospital managers in the past.

In October 2023, Schranz met with Bernard Gloster (HSE chief executive) and with Gary Russell (HSE's head of the National Office for Protected Disclosures), according to the Irish Examiner, but it gave no further details of the discussions. Also, in an article posted on 13 December 2018, Schranz told The Times newspaper that there was "a toxic work environment" at UHK and that this contributed to errors by clinical staff. He said there had been "a consistent lack of support from management" for clinical staff.

Based on his latest posts on X and on Reddit, however, Schranz seems determined not to be silenced because of the suspension. He said he believes the healthcare problem is "easily solvable" and the issue in Ireland is not with resources but with efficiency ("treating the tasks in clusters with the help of software and better processes"), corruption ("removing nepotism from hospital management, forensic analysis of accounts, investigating kickbacks and commissions and having a revolving door policy where staff cannot take on jobs with private companies they have awarded contracts to in the past"), and skillset transfer ("remuneration of the passing of skills between staff so that vital skills are not monopolised by a few individuals").

On 31 December 2023, Schranz wrote on X that he's "all set up and ready to go in the Mall, Tralee. Contact my team for any application you want to build for the web. From 40 euro per month. Contact me at http://sico.ie." In a tweet posted on 26 December, he first revealed he had set up "a VR [virtual reality] web design company aptly called SICO".

According to the Offshoreleaks website, SICO Ltd is a company registered in Malta. Its directors, legal representatives, and shareholders are Richard and Albert Schranz.

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