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Found 56 results
  1. News Article
    On Tuesday, the UK Covid inquiry which is sitting in Belfast for three weeks will start hearing from the most senior politicians and health advisors in Northern Ireland about why decisions were taken and by whom. This is module 2c of the inquiry, which is focusing on decision-making and political governance. This module will investigate Northern Ireland specifically and will include the initial response, central government decision making, and political and civil service performance. It will also probe whether Northern Ireland's political nuances had any affect on the effectiveness of the response. There were tensions between the political parties when senior Sinn Féin figures attended the funeral of ex-IRA leader Bobby Storey and when the DUP's Edwin Poots, then minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, said coronavirus was more common in nationalist areas. The hearings begin with opening statements and evidence from Covid-19 Bereaved Families and Disability Action. Core participants who have been named in advance include the former first ministers, Dame Arlene Foster and Paul Givan, and Michelle O'Neill, who was deputy first minster during the pandemic. Senior representatives from the departments of health, finance, the Executive Office, and the civil service will also be questioned. Read full story Source: BBC, 29 April 2024
  2. Content Article
    The Patient and Client Council’s role with respect to health and social care services is to: represent the interests of the public promote the involvement of the public; assist people making or intending to make a complaint through advocacy; promote the advice and information by HSC bodies to the public about the design, commissioning and delivery of services; undertake research into the best methods and practices for consulting and engaging the public.
  3. Content Article
    The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman investigates unresolved complaints about public bodies in Northern Ireland.   Before you make a complaint to us you should normally have: Complained directly to the organisation  Gone through its complaints process Received a final response to your complaint. Their website will give you more information on what Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman do, how to make a complaint, and their investigations.
  4. Content Article
    The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) are an independent health and social care regulator in Northern Ireland. RQIA aim to assure public confidence in health and social care through their independent, proportionate and responsible regulation. Through inspections, reviews and audits, RQIA provides assurance about the quality of care, challenges poor practice, promotes improvement and safeguards the rights of service users. RQIA informs the public of their findings through the publication of reports. They are committed to working closely with service providers so that they can deliver improved care and are dedicated to hearing and acting on the experiences of patients, clients, families and carers. This leaflet provides more information about RQIA.
  5. News Article
    Staff whistleblowers have raised concerns over patient safety at one of Northern Ireland's biggest health trusts. Information received by UTV under Freedom of Information shows that most of the worries from health workers at the Belfast Health Trust relate to the Royal Victoria Hospital. Belfast Health Trust said any concerns raised by staff are investigated. The Royal College of Nursing NI was due to hold a webinar with members on Tuesday evening to discuss concerns members have about safety of patients being treated on corridors. The RCN's Rita Devlin said that the number of concerns raised with health trusts through the whistleblowing policy is only the tip of the iceberg. The concerns included unsafe staffing levels, bed shortages, boarding of patients, ED overcrowding, alleged drug dealing on a hospital site, staff sleeping on night duty, lack of mental health beds and the quality of staff training. The Belfast Trust said all staff are encouraged to make management aware of issues giving them concern through the whistleblowing process. The Trust added: "Any concern we receive is subject to a fair and proportionate process of investigation. "Whistleblowing investigations are of a fact finding nature and all relevant learning is shared as appropriate and taken forward by the Trust." Read full story Source: ITVX. 12 March 2024
  6. News Article
    Health service dentistry in Northern Ireland could be caught in a "death spiral" without radical action, more than 700 dentists have warned. They say a combination of factors could make the service unsustainable. These include a potential ban on dental amalgam metals used in fillings, budget pressures and a "financially unviable contractual framework". The dentists have called on the Department of Health (DoH) "to show leadership and take action now". A DoH spokesperson said the department "valued the important role" of dentists and was "aware of the ongoing pressures on dental practices". In an open letter to Peter May, the top civil servant at the DoH, dentists from the British Dental Association (BDA) Northern Ireland warned that services were under "intolerable pressure". The letter said: "Despite clear evidence and repeated warnings issued by the BDA about the death spiral health service dentistry in Northern Ireland appears to be in, we have seen inaction from the authorities." The dentists added that a move away from health service dentistry was "well and truly underway" and dentists would "be increasingly driven out of health service dentistry to keep their practices afloat". Read full story Source: BBC News, 30 January 2024
  7. Content Article
    The framework has been produced to guide organisations providing residential or supported living accommodation to adults with a learning disability who may have been impacted by a trauma history. Whilst it can be difficult to assess the impact of trauma for many people with a learning disability, particularly those with a more severe/profound learning disability, it is important to recognise the possibility of the impact of psychological trauma. Providing care practices that are trauma informed, person-centred and growth promoting are less likely to be re-traumatizing for those already exposed to trauma.
  8. News Article
    A fresh inquest into the death of Raychel Ferguson has found she died of a cerebral oedema, or swelling in the brain, due to hyponatraemia. He said the "inappropriate infusion of hypertonic saline fluid" was the most significant factor. The nine-year-old died at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in June 2001. Coroner Joe McCrisken said her death was due to a series of human errors and not systemic failure. He outlined three causes of the hyponatraemia but said he was satisfied the "inappropriate infusion of hypertonic saline fluid... played the most significant part". The new inquest into Raychel's death was first opened in January 2022 after being ordered by the attorney general but was postponed in October when new evidence came to light. Raychel was one of five children whose deaths over the course of eight years at the same hospital prompted a public inquiry. In 2018 the Hyponatraemia Inquiry - which examined the deaths of five children in Northern Ireland hospitals, including Raychel - found her death was avoidable. The 14-year-long inquiry was heavily critical of the "self-regulating and unmonitored" health service. In his report in 2018, Mr Justice O'Hara found there was a "reluctance among clinicians to openly acknowledge failings" in Raychel's death. Read full story Source: BBC News, 11 December 2023
  9. News Article
    Living with seizures and crippling pain, Zara Corbett says she's "begging for help" as she copes with endometriosis. The 21-year-old told BBC News NI that if she had any other condition she would be receiving help. "With gynae problems, particularly endometriosis, you are left waiting for years." "Women should not be left suffering this pain, it's not good enough," the beautician said. Zara has been put into early menopause - which is one potential treatment for endometriosis. The County Down woman said Northern Ireland needed a dedicated centre to provide specialist support. "I am begging for help from medical professionals including support from a multi-agency network because we are at our wits end - life cannot go on like this," she said. Endometriosis UK, an organisation that helps women with the condition, said it was shocked and saddened that it does not see "good, prompt care" in Northern Ireland. Its chief executive, Emma Cox, who visited Belfast in May, said services in Northern Ireland were "lagging behind" the rest of the UK. "We hear of the very long waiting lists to access gynaecologists to get a diagnosis but also waiting lists to access surgeons, it's about the disease being taken seriously," Ms Cox said. Read full story Source: BBC News, 6 December 2023
  10. Content Article
    This report published by the National Vascular Registry (NVR) contains information on emergency (non-elective) and elective procedures for the following patient groups: patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) who undergo either (a) lower limb angioplasty/stent, (b) lower limb bypass surgery, or (c) lower limb amputation patients who have a repair procedure for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) patients who undergo carotid endarterectomy or carotid stenting.
  11. News Article
    Lawyers for a doctor at the centre of Northern Ireland's biggest patient recall have withdrawn from his new fitness to practise hearing. Legal representatives for Michael Watt said they are "concerned about his serious mental health condition". They told the Medical Practice Tribunal Service that the continuation of the hearing in public "presents a real risk to his mental health". A new fitness to practise hearing began in September. The legal team has also formally withdrawn an application to the tribunal for Michael Watt to remove himself from the medical register. It followed a ruling by the High Court earlier this year to quash a decision where he previously was voluntary erased from the medical register. The tribunal is inquiring into the allegation that, between 7 and 22 of October 2018, Michael Watt underwent a General Medical Council assessment of the standard of his professional performance. It is alleged that that performance was unacceptable in the areas of maintaining professional performance, assessment, clinical management, record keeping and relationship with patients. Read full story Source: BBC News, 27 October 2023
  12. News Article
    Women affected by a review of cervical smears in the Southern Health Trust have said they are "angry, frustrated and scared" for their future. About 17,500 patients in the trust are to have their previous smears re-checked as part of a major review of cervical screening dating back to 2008. Some of these women will be recalled to have new smear tests carried out. But the process has not started yet and will take at least six months to complete. Letters were sent out by the trust earlier this month to those affected. The Southern Trust says it expects to recall around 4,000 women for a new smear test after it reviews 17,368 historic slides. The Trust's medical director, Dr Steve Austin, told its board meeting that the review of slides was expected to start next week. It also emerged that the number of calls from concerned women has increased with many asking for more "specialist" answers. Read full story Source: BBC News, 27 October 2023
  13. News Article
    A new regional centre which promotes the reporting of suspected safety concerns associated with healthcare products has been launched in Northern Ireland. The Yellow Card centre for Northern Ireland will bring together a dedicated team to increase awareness, educate, and promote reporting of suspected adverse events to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) Yellow Card scheme. The Yellow Card scheme provides a mechanism for patients, care givers and healthcare staff to report suspected safety concerns associated with healthcare products. Speaking at the launch of the new service, Northern Ireland Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Professor Cathy Harrison said: “Collecting and monitoring information on possible adverse effects of medications and healthcare products is vital to ensuring patient safety. "It is fitting that the launch of the Yellow Card centre for Northern Ireland coincides with World Patient Safety Day on 17 September, with this year’s theme of "Engaging patients for patient safety". "The Yellow Card scheme puts the patient voice at its heart. By voluntarily reporting issues, patients, families and care givers can play a crucial role in their own care, and the safety of healthcare as a whole. I welcome the launch of the new regional centre and would encourage anyone who has suspected safety concerns to report them.” Read full story Source: Department of Health (Northern Ireland), 13 September 2023
  14. News Article
    Waiting times for outpatient appointments, hospital procedures, emergency care, GPs and community health services have all hit record levels in Northern Ireland, with health care staff and patients declaring it the "worst ever" crisis to hit health services in the region. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, ever-growing patient demand, staff shortages, and the failure to put together a new Executive government following the recent Northern Ireland elections are being cited as the key drivers of the crisis, with health care staff now at breaking point. Speaking to Medscape UK, British Medical Association Northern Ireland (BMA NI) council chair Dr Tom Black said the current crisis in Northern Ireland's health services essentially boils down to "workload and workforce" issues. Waiting lists to access hospital appointments in Northern Ireland were already long before COVID-19, but the pandemic has significantly exacerbated the situation, he noted. Northern Ireland has the worst waiting lists in the UK, with more than 350,000 people currently waiting for a consultant-led appointment – more than half of them waiting over a year, with many waiting two, three, and even more years for an appointment. "We're now heading towards nearly 400,000 on hospital waiting lists, which is a huge number when you consider that is one-in-five of the total population," Dr Black commented. This week a judicial review is due to get underway at the High Court in Belfast after two patients initiated a legal case against the health services over excessive waiting times for access to care. One of the women has been waiting over five years to see a neurologist after being referred by her GP for suspected multiple sclerosis. The case is seeking a judicial declaration that the length of the waiting lists are unlawful and breached their human rights. Read full story Source: Medscape UK, 24 May 2022
  15. News Article
    More than a quarter of cancers in Northern Ireland are being diagnosed in hospital emergency departments, according to Cancer Research UK. The study, published in The Lancet Oncology, was supported by NI Cancer Registry at Queen's University Belfast. It looked at 857,068 cases diagnosed between 2012 and 2017 in six countries including Australia, Denmark and the UK. Clare Crossey, 35, from Lurgan was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in February 2018 after being admitted to hospital as an emergency. The 35-year-old mother-of-two, who is a domiciliary care assistant, suddenly became very unwell with symptoms including tiredness and bruising. She told BBC News NI she had contacted her local health centre, where a GP told her she was being overly anxious. Ms Crossey said she had panicked, fearing she may have leukaemia after looking up her symptoms on the internet. "I had a feeling that things weren't right," she said. "The doctor did not agree with my suspicions as they passed me the number of the Samaritans helpline, a prescription for beta blockers and told me to wait a week for blood tests." She said: "I went to Craigavon's A&E, they did blood tests and within hours a consultant broke the news to me that I might have leukaemia." The medical team told her that had she waited any longer to come to the emergency department, she could have died, said Ms Crossley. Barbara Roulston, from Cancer Research UK, said the study confirmed too many people were only being diagnosed with cancer once their health had deteriorated to a point when they needed to go to their emergency department. "We need to reduce the number of cancer diagnoses that are happening in this way," she said. "That means renewed focus on early diagnosis and prevention through things like better awareness of symptoms, better uptake of screening programs and the way to do that is to get funding for the cancer strategy which was published recently. "If we don't, the risk is that we will start to see cancer survival going backwards." Read full story Source: BBC News, 7 April 222
  16. News Article
    A paediatrician who was at the centre of one of Northern Ireland's longest running public inquiries will appear before a professional misconduct panel. Dr Heather Steen is accused of several failings following the death of Claire Roberts at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in October 1996. The nine-year-old's death was examined by the hyponatraemia inquiry, which lasted 14 years. It examined the role of several doctors. Among his findings, the inquiry's chairman Mr Justice O'Hara said there had been a "cover-up" to "avoid scrutiny." Monday's tribunal will inquire into allegations that, between 23 October 1996 and 4 May 2006, Dr Steen "knowingly and dishonestly carried out several actions to conceal the true circumstances" of the child's death. Also that the doctor provided inappropriate, incomplete and inaccurate information to the child's parents and GP regarding the treatment, diagnosis, clinical management and cause of her death. The tribunal website adds: "It is also alleged that Dr Steen inappropriately recommended a brain-only post-mortem for Patient A (Claire Roberts) when a full post-mortem was necessary. "In addition, it is alleged that Dr Steen failed to refer Patient A's death to the coroner, inappropriately completed the medical certificate of cause of death and inaccurately completed the autopsy request form for Patient A. "Furthermore, it is alleged that during a review of Patient A's notes, Dr Steen failed to consult with the necessary colleagues and medical teams and provided a statement and gave evidence to the coroner's inquest into Patient A's death which omitted key information." Read full story Source: BBC News, 21 March 2022
  17. News Article
    The mother of a four-year-old boy with complex needs said she fears he could die waiting for life-changing surgery. Collette Mullan made the claim to BBC Spotlight as it examined the scale of hospital waiting lists. Northern Ireland has the worst waiting times in the UK, with more than half a million cases queued for an outpatient or inpatient appointment. The Department of Health has described current waiting lists as "entirely unacceptable". Óisín, from County Londonderry, has a number of health conditions including cerebral palsy, and is currently waiting for two procedures. He is fed with a tube that carries his food through his nose into his stomach, but since it was inserted six months ago, his mum Collette said he has struggled to breathe. Óisín is now waiting to have the nasogastric tube removed and replaced by a different feeding system which goes directly to his stomach. Collette said she was told it could be a three-year wait for the procedure. She is concerned that Óisín's cerebral palsy puts him at a greater risk of complications, saying she had been warned there was a danger he could aspirate. "He could die. Anything going into his lung really, it could be very dangerous," she said. Read full story Source: BBC News, 3 October 2023
  18. News Article
    Northern Ireland's health system cannot expect its staff to "step up time and time again" to provide patient care and ensure their safety. That is according to the head of Northern Ireland's Confederation for Health and Social Care, which is marking the NHS's 75th anniversary. A long-term funding plan, political leadership and transformation are all overdue, Michael Bloomfield said. "There is a clear vision for what needs to happen, the leaders across the health and social care system know what needs to happen - we just need political leadership to make sure it happens," he told BBC News NI. Amid all the celebrations, there are mixed feelings about the current condition and future of health and social care. The director of the Royal College of Nursing NI, Rita Devlin, described the idea of not having an NHS as "unthinkable". "We need to make sure that the environment that we are asking our nurses to work in is one that values the work that they do and fairly pays and rewards them for what they do," she said. Other issues that need addressing, she added, were career pathways, training and ensuring that "when a nurse wants to stay at the bedside, that that is valued equally as the nurses who want to go into management". Read full story Source: BBC News, 5 July 2023
  19. News Article
    Northern Ireland’s chief pharmaceutical officer has said that the use of prescribed medicines and the associated costs remains too high, exceeding £800m a year. In a blog to reflect on the 75th anniversary of the NHS, Professor Cathy Harrison added that medicine costs in NI are the second largest single investment made in the health service, after staff. “The average number of prescription items a year is 21 per person, at a cost of £227. This cost is the highest in the UK and the volume of prescription items is still rising each year,” she said. “There is an uncomfortable truth that manifests in the prescribing data for medicines. In Northern Ireland, we continue to use more of almost every type of medicine than other parts of the UK. “That includes more antibiotics, more painkillers, more baby milks, more nutritional supplements, even more oxygen.” Read full story Source: Belfast Telegraph, 27 June 2023
  20. News Article
    Former patients and families of those affected by some of Northern Ireland's worst health scandals have called for accountability at every level of the health service. The collective of campaigners gathered at Stormont in protest on Saturday. They have demanded change, saying "enough is enough". They included those affected by systemic failures identified in neurology, urology, care homes and hyponatraemia. Danielle O'Neill, a former patient of the neurologist Dr Michael Watt, whose practice led to Northern Ireland's largest patient recall, was among them. "It's important for us to stand here today as a collective with all of the other scandals to show that we demand an individual duty of candour," she said. "We demand accountability, we demand justice. "There have been far too many health scandals in our health service." Read full story Source: BBC News, 4 September 2022
  21. News Article
    A proposed pay settlement is making doctors consider leaving the health service, the British Medical Association (BMA) in Northern Ireland has said. In a BMA survey of more than 1,000 doctors, 85% of respondents said the proposed uplift of 4.5% was too low. The representative body said discontent was very high among junior doctors with 93% of them saying it was too low. "When asked about their intentions as to the likelihood of them continuing to work in Northern Ireland, junior doctors said they were now more likely to leave because of the low pay award," said the BMA. Read full story Source: BBC News (31 August 2022)
  22. News Article
    Health Minister Robin Swann has announced plans to improve the review process for serious adverse incidents (SAI) in Northern Ireland's health and social care system. The reviews take place after unintended incidents of harm and ensure improvements are made. The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) was commissioned to examine the system's effectiveness. It found the process was not "sufficiently robust". In the RQIA report, the independent body found that "neither the SAI review process nor its implementation is sufficiently robust to consistently enable an understanding of what factors, both systems and people, have led to a patient or service user coming to harm". It added: "The reality is that similar situations, where events leading to harm have been inadequately investigated and examples of recognised good practice have not been followed, have been and are likely to be repeated in current practice." It identified failures in the SAI procedure, including failures to: Answer patient and family questions. Determine where safety breaches have occurred. Achieve a systemic understanding of those safety breaches. Design recommendations and action plans to reduce the opportunity for the same or similar safety breaches in future. Read full story Source: BBC News, 7 July 2022
  23. News Article
    Nursing leaders are to write to Northern Ireland's Secretary of State Brandon Lewis over the failure to establish an Executive and the risk this poses to patients. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) congress has passed a motion calling for all political parties and the UK Government to commit to the immediate formation of a fully functioning Executive and Assembly. Fiona Devlin, chair of the RCN Northern Ireland board, brought the matter to the congress and said the move represents the deep level of concern in the profession. “There is a responsibility to speak up when patients are coming to harm,” she said. “The health service is about to completely tip over the edge. We felt we did everything we could to communicate our concerns before the elections, and since then, nothing has changed. “The system is crumbling minute by minute, we have the worst waiting lists in the UK, our emergency departments are completely overstretched, primary care and the independent sector are in crisis. “Patients can’t be decanted out of ambulances into emergency departments because there’s no room in the hospitals and they’re dying in the back of ambulances. Read full story Source: Belfast Times, 8 June 2022
  24. News Article
    NHS trusts in England have increased recruitment from low-income “red list” countries to make up for the post-Brexit loss of EU staff, despite a code of practice to safeguard health services in those developing countries. A report by the Nuffield Trust thinktank also identified shortages in vital specialist areas since Brexit, including dentistry, cardiothoracic surgery and anaesthesiology. It found that Brexit is still causing issues with the supply of medicines in Northern Ireland despite a change in the arrangements put in place by the EU last April. The report says that since 2021, the Northern Ireland protocol obliging EU trade rules to be followed in the region has led to a different set of medicines being available compared with the rest of the UK. Of the 597 products specifically approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency since Brexit, “only eight were also approved for Northern Ireland under the same name and company”. It also found that since 2021, 52 products had been granted marketing authorisation for Northern Ireland but not in Great Britain under the EU approvals system, including a painkiller from the Slovenian company Sandoz Farmacevtska Druzba designed to stop people dying from opiate overdoses. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) described the report as “deeply alarming”. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 7 January 2023
  25. News Article
    The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) is investigating whether a delayed response contributed to the deaths of eight people in recent weeks. All eight deaths occurred between 12 December and the start of January. The NIAS is treating four of the deaths as serious adverse incidents, which is defined as an incident that led to unintended or unexpected harm. The remaining four deaths are being investigated to see whether they meet that criteria. The patients' identities have not been disclosed, but it is understood one of the eight people was a man who waited more than nine hours for an ambulance in mid-December. The man's condition deteriorated and he died before paramedics arrived. The delays are a cause of "great concern," but there is "no end in sight to the pressures we are facing," according to the ambulance service's medical director Nigel Ruddell. He said the ambulance service conducts an internal review whenever "there is a delayed response to the call and a poor outcome from the call" to see whether delays contributed to a death. "That process involves liaising with the family and being open and clear with them about what happened on the day - whether it was because of pressures and demand on the day or whether there was something that, potentially, we could have done better." Read full story Source: BBC News, 4 January 2022
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