Trust's inquest apology over MND sufferer left for hours on a trolley
The family of a 78-year-old man with advanced motor neurone disease who died in hospital after waiting 22 hours on a trolley have received an apology from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust for failures in his care.
An inquest into the death of Thomas (Tim) Quinn heard that while the trust could not completely guarantee that another death like his would never happen again, it was confident that it was "highly unlikely to" following medical and safety improvements.
Senior Coroner John Leckey ruled Mr Quinn died from pneumonia as the primary cause at Royal Victoria Hospital while he waited to be transferred to Belfast City between March 5-6, 2012.
Before being transferred by ambulance three hours later than planned, he was discovered to be unresponsive.
He was resuscitated but declined again, dying 24 hours after he was admitted.
Trust medical director Dr Cathy Jack gave a full apology for the hospital in failing to "respond in a timely manner" to Mr Quinn's care.
She also admitted that a communication error which led to his partner not being contacted caused "further distress and suffering" to the family.
She added: "We could have done more and I apologise for that. We can't ever undo this so I have left Mr Quinn's family with a lot of 'what ifs' and I can't change that and for that I am truly sorry."
Afterwards his son Thomas Quinn said: "There were clear admissions that there were failures and a real honesty to try and move things forward and to learn from it. My father's death was far from being in vain. There were real difficulties in the case, particularly with those to do with trust and we didn't think that we would get the answers that we needed, but we did today.
"I did what I did for the staff at that hospital and for the people of Belfast as much as the family."
Dr Jack, who was not in her current position at the time of Mr Quinn's death, gave detailed evidence of improvements that the trust had implemented following the retired contractor's death.
Mr Leckey paid tribute to Monye Anyadike-Danes QC for providing her services to Mr Quinn's family pro bono as an example of "the best tradition of the Northern Ireland Bar".
He extended his sympathies and said he hoped that the inquest had closed a chapter and that they could move on.