The man in charge of the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust has come under fire for failing to tell the Stormont health committee about a major probe into the work of a senior consultant.
Colm Donaghy, chief executive of the trust, failed to tell the |committee about an investigation into the work of Professor Philip Lamey, a consultant in oral medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital, when asked about other important reviews being carried out.
At the time the Belfast Trust was preparing to recall 135 patients for further examination as a result of concerns over work done by Professor Lamey.
The omission has been met with anger by the chair of the committee, Jim Wells, who said there “have been serious failings in communication at the highest level”.
It is the latest twist in a crisis in which up to 15 people may have received a late cancer diagnosis.
The situation, which came to light last Friday afternoon, sparked an apology by the Health Minister who has launched an |urgent independent inquiry into the actions of his department, the Health & Social Care Board and the Belfast Trust.
Mr Wells said: “I just find this absolutely extraordinary.
“I can’t believe Mr Donaghy has admitted he knew about the review and yet he sat in front of the health committee and said nothing when we asked him for details of any important investigations.”
Mr Donaghy appeared before the health committee on January 27, along with the permanent secretary of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Andrew McCormick.
During the hearing Mr Wells raised concerns over the committee being left in the dark over important health issues.
He said: “That leads me to ask a difficult question of you, Andrew and Colm. You are expecting me to ask this — is there anything out there of which we are not aware, such as a major investigation, report or in-depth review of any description?
“Is there anything that, if it were to enter the public domain courtesy of some local newspaper, could catch us on the hop |or ambush us and leave you saying that you should have let us know about it?
“What is out there that we do not know about?”
Mr Donaghy remained silent while Mr McCormick replied: “Nothing out there matches the words that you used.
“Many areas are under review or being pursued by way of service improvement, but there is nothing of which I am aware that matches the words that you used.”
Mr Donaghy has said while he was aware of the concerns over patient care at the time, he did not feel it was appropriate to mention them at the health committee.
However, Mr Wells said: “I can’t believe he sat and said nothing.
“He also let Andrew McCormick sit there and say there was nothing to worry about.
“Andrew has told me he didn’t know anything about the situation until the following Monday, so you have to ask questions over the communication in the health service.”