Belfast Telegraph

Damning A&E review sparks health row

The Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has said he did not need to know the findings of a damning review which found patients were at risk in the A&E department of Northern Ireland’s main children’s hospital.

Mr McGimpsey is still refusing to say when he became aware of the findings of a report into patient care at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children — completed in March last year — which stated there was a “very real risk children will come to harm” while being treated in the A&E.

He said: “When I set up the Health & Social Care Board I gave it full responsibility for all performance management and improvement across health and social care organisations.

“I will continue to ask the board to take forward this work, which is key in delivering high-quality health and social care services.

“This visit was not a major investigation or a review; it was part of normal business — where trusts are always looking to improve how they deliver their services.

“This is right and proper. On a regular basis, trusts will benchmark their performance against organisations from across the UK.

“I do not expect to be told details of every piece of business that is happening in the health and social care service.

“That is for the Health & Social Care Board, working with the trusts, to manage and should be treated as such.”

Bosses at the Belfast Trust have stressed they invited the NHS Interim Management and Support team to the hospital to identify ways they could improve patient care and there have been no |instances where children |were put at risk in the emergency department.

Despite the assurances, questions have been asked over why the health minister was not |informed of the findings.

It is the latest example of health bosses failing to release important information about services in Northern Ireland.

The Public Health Agency only revealed details of swine flu deaths in response to public pressure, and earlier this month it emerged the Western Trust is the subject of a major review which was launched last November.

Jim Wells, chair of the Stormont Health Committee, said: “If I was the health minister I would be hopping mad that I wasn’t told.

“It raises the question that there may be other reviews going on that we don’t know about.

“I also don’t accept the minister’s claim that he didn’t need to know. There appears to be a culture of trying to keep the lid on things instead of being upfront and admitting when there are problems.”

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