Belfast Telegraph

Deaths: Tougher scrutiny for trust

The trust in charge of a hospital where three babies died is to face much tougher scrutiny, it has been revealed.

An increased number of accountability meetings between the health department and Belfast Health Trust will monitor progress in addressing management concerns, health minister Edwin Poots said.

A report has said the Belfast Health Trust should have declared the pseudomonas outbreak at the Royal Victoria Hospital's maternity unit sooner and criticised a lack of communication between health officials. Mr Poots said: "The trust will be asked to draw up an action plan specifically focused on those areas where I have been concerned, and I will expect the trust to report on progress against this plan regularly to my department."

This will include the implementation of recommendations emanating from the interim report of the Independent Review of Incidents of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infection in Neonatal units in Northern Ireland.

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) is investigating four deaths at hospitals in Belfast and Londonderry in December and January. Its review team on Thursday found there was no common approach across neonatal units for declaring an outbreak.

The independent group, led by Prof Pat Troop, concluded that the bug was linked to water from contaminated taps in neonatal units. It found that a lack of co-ordination between staff in health trusts during the outbreak may have impacted on how decisions were made.

The team believed the most likely way the bug spread to babies was the use of tap water in washing during nappy changes. It has recommended that in future only sterile water is used for washing babies in neonatal units.

The review also said that a nurse reported a leaking roof in the Royal Jubilee Maternity's neonatal unit six days after a baby was diagnosed with pseudomonas.

Mr Poots made his announcement following a meeting of the Northern Ireland Executive of ministers at Stormont. He has also met the chairman and chief executive of the Belfast Trust to express disquiet at Thursday's report.

The special oversight measures will begin immediately and be kept under review, the minister said. "Through my time as health minister I have heard nothing but praise for the frontline staff in all the trusts and I would like to emphasise that I have nothing but admiration for the work they do, sometimes in difficult circumstances," he said.

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