THE medical director of the Galway Hospice has accused staff of making serious errors which put the lives of 15 patients at risk.

In a letter sent to her superiors at University College Hospital in Galway last month, and seen exclusively by The Sunday Tribune, Dr Dympna Waldron claims that on at least 40 occasions, staff administered excessive doses of drugs to patients.

Accusations and counteraccusations are at the centre of a major row at the hospice which has led to the effective closure of the facility to new patients.

The hospice receives more than 2.3m in taxpayer support each year.

Dr Waldron, consultant in palliative medicine and the medical director of the hospice, alleged that "dangerously high quantities" of drugs had been administered to patients by hospice staff.

Waldron highlighted 15 serious life-threatening errors and 25 serious drug errors and said that there were a number of occasions when repeat errors occurred in the administration of excess quantities of drugs to the same patient.

The letter stated that the number of drug errors was "unacceptably high", and that the failure of staff to adhere to proper protocol was also a "major concern".

Some staff at Galway Hospice have accused Waldron of bullying them. Hospice management has requested the Western Health Board to reassign her pending an investigation.

The Western Health Board and the hospice are carrying out two separate investigations into the complaints lodged by both Waldron and the nursing staff.

It is understood that a number of complaints against Waldron have been lodged with the health board.

A spokeswoman for the Western Health Board said it will continue to work closely with the hospice to try to resolve matters.