Belfast Telegraph

Western Trust staffing shortages put lives in danger

By Lisa Smyth

A major review of the Western Trust has found patients’ lives have been put at risk because of staff shortages.

Startling failings highlighted in the performance report carried out by the Health & Social Care Board show serious lapses in patient care — including the late cancer diagnosis of four people.

The report also revealed that in July last year, only 21% of breast cancer patients referred for |urgent tests were seen within the Government target of 14 days.

As a result of additional clinics, the trust’s 14-day breast cancer performance improved to 76% in October 2010, 99% the following month and is now at 100%.

The Western Trust has come under fire over its handling of a series of high-profile cases in recent years.

In November 2007, registered sex offender Arthur McElhill murdered his wife and five children in Omagh when he set fire to their home.

In December 2009 baby Millie Martin from Enniskillen died. Criminal proceedings are currently under way.

In June 2010, two paedophile brothers with learning disabilities were allowed to return home to live close to their victims.

And in another long-running controversy — not mentioned in the report — the family of 78-year-old Maureen McGinley has demanded the truth of how the Strabane pensioner sustained 34 fractures after she died at Altnagelvin Hospital in January 2007.

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