Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson Roy Beggs has reacted with shock to the news that the Northern Trust has identified 20 separate incidents in which the response was below standard and that 11 possible avoidable deaths have now been identified.
Roy Beggs MLA said;
“The most important thing to remember is that at the heart of this announcement there are 11 families who have lost a loved one, 5 of which were tragically only babies.
“Our hospitals help people in their most vulnerable condition so it is hugely important that that they remain safe. Unfortunately that can no longer be taken for granted with revelations of growing waiting times and numbers of ‘serious adverse incidents’ spiralling out of control. It’s clear to me that it is only the sheer professionalism and dedication of our health service staff that is preventing our health system imploding in on itself.
“Last month I learned that the numbers of serious incidents in Northern Health and Social Care Trust hospitals had increased from 49 in 2011, to 63 in 2012, and then some 131 serious adverse hospital incidents in 2013. That represented an increase of 167% since Edwin Poots came to office.
“I will be attending an urgent briefing with the Northern Trust this afternoon and I will be demanding answers as to how this happened, when it happened and crucially whether these 11 families were told at the time that failings in their treatment may have been a factor in the death of their loved ones. The previous revelations from the Belfast Trust that delays in treatment for five patients presenting at the A&E in the Royal Victoria Hospital may have been contributing factors in their deaths were further compounded when it later transpired that families had been kept in the dark.
“Only a number of weeks ago I challenged that the Department of Health whether serious adverse incidents at other hospitals throughout Northern Ireland had identified any other deaths that could be attributed to delays. At the time I was told they didn’t readily have the information but tragically today, buried in a written Ministerial statement issued on a Friday, the Department has announced there were at least 11 possible further deaths in the Northern Trust.
“Questions need to be answered as to whether there are any other deaths, when, why and how they happened and most importantly why there has not been the appropriate openness and transparency so that lessons can be learnt to prevent future tragic oversights in treatment. Given the delays and the pressures on the Ulster Hospital in particular I have also sought answers directly from the Minister on the numbers of serious adverse incidents and whether or not any other preventable deaths have been revealed at it or any other hospitals.”