Belfast Telegraph

Your voice is crucial to A&E future

By Les Allamby

Our health - and that of our loved ones - is a priority. More than 700,000 of us use accident and emergency every year, and more than 60,000 people work in health and social care here. It's not surprising that healthcare and hospitals are never far from the headlines.

Since June, the Human Rights Commission has been taking calls from the public and interested organisations on their experiences of emergency healthcare.

We will be holding 12 public hearings across Northern Ireland – the first takes place this Thursday in Belfast.

At these hearings, we will hear from the minister for health, senior officials from the trusts and Ambulance Service. We will also hear from patients and carers.

Included in those stories, we will hear from a son whose mother died in accident and emergency and who was left feeling uninformed about her treatment.

Carers have experienced long waiting times, had no access to nutrition and felt there was a lack of information – including about how to complain.

Importantly, we will also hear from those who have found a professional, warm and attentive service that was responsive to his or her need. Many cannot speak highly enough of the care and attention they received.

These are just some of the experiences people will be sharing as part of our Human Rights Inquiry. Public participation is at the very core of this inquiry, and so we invite everyone to come along to the hearings on their emergency care services.

Through the inquiry, we will measure our emergency healthcare system with the Government's international human rights obligations.

We will also try to identify the practices that work and those that need to be improved in the system. We will be making our recommendations to the Executive in 2015.

The first hearings take place in Belfast on Thursday, September 4 and Friday, September 5 at the Youth Action building, 14 College Square North, from 12.30pm-6.30pm. You can find a list of all the forthcoming hearings at www.nihrc.org/inquiry.

  • Les Allamby is chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

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