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Judge threatens to shut Altnagelvin Hospital over patient record

By George Jackson

Published 19/11/2016

District Judge Barney McElholm
District Judge Barney McElholm

The chief executive of the Western Health Trust could be summoned to Londonderry Magistrates Court over the failure to give police the medical records of a victim who sustained serious injuries in an assault this year.

A prosecution solicitor yesterday told District Judge Barney McElholm that the trust's medical records department at Altnagelvin Hospital had still not responded to numerous police requests for the records, which were required as part of a criminal investigation.

He said the case was being further delayed because a trust employee had reported that the staff members responsible for responding to the police request were all on long-term leave.

The solicitor also said that the trust's position was that it had not yet received the requests, even though police dispute this.

Mr McElholm said the trust's attitude was "intolerable".

He added that it interfered with the administration of justice, without which the country would fall into chaos.

The District Judge said he was left with few options to advance the matter, but one would be to issue witness summonses against trust chief executive Elaine Way and chairman Gerry Guckian. "At the risk of decimating the trust's administration staff, maybe somebody in the hospital could simply dig out the medical records and photocopy them and then give them to the police," he added.

"Never mind the Health Minister - I will shut the hospital if they continue to carry on like this. These are very serious offences and the defendant is innocent until this court rules on the matter.

"The alleged injured party has an interest in this, the defendant has an interest in this, and the general public has an interest in an appropriate and efficient administration of justice."

He then issued a witness summons in the name of the staff member who told the police that her work colleagues were on long-term leave of absence.

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