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Beleaguered Belfast health trust hit by costly payouts and care failings

By Jane Scott

The revelations surrounding Dr Michael Watt are just the latest in a series of controversies to hit Northern Ireland's biggest health trust over recent months.

Even since the patient recall news broke, the Belfast Health Trust has been asked why it is sending 61 staff to a major international health trust in the Netherlands. The Trust has yet to explain why so many staff are needed to attend.

Two months ago, the Trust confirmed that the new critical care building at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast won't be fully occupied for another three years.

It was due to open all 12 of its floors in 2012.

In early January, the Trust apologised and paid out £6,000 for "significant failures" in its care for a dying patient.

The girl's father said he was left to carry out basic nursing tasks, including administering fluids, with no assistance, nor was he consulted by staff on the ward.

Public Services Ombudsman Marie Anderson said closer observation may have identified her deterioration sooner and allowed the girl's mother to arrive in time to support her daughter in her final moments.

Weeks later, the Trust was forced to acknowledge "many failings" following a damning inquiry into the deaths of five children in hospitals all from conditions connected to hyponatremia.

In February, the Trust paid out £5,500 to an agoraphobic woman with an anxiety disorder who was discharged as a patient after missing two appointments.

It apologised after having been found to have failed to provide adequate care and management in accessing mental health treatment.

In December, Belfast was among four NI health trusts rated among the 10 worst emergency department performers in the UK.

Last November, the Trust was forced to defend its multi-million pound medical negligence spend.

Government figures revealed the trust spent £34m on ongoing medical negligence complaints up to the end of the last financial year.

Belfast Telegraph

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