SAGE member has played key role in Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 response.
Northern Ireland’s chief scientific adviser is currently on leave on health grounds, it has emerged.
Professor Ian Young, who is a member of SAGE, has played a key role in Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 response.
The Department of Health has said a number of other senior figures from within the health service will stand in during his absence.
The period of leave comes as Prof Young awaits the outcome of a Judicial Review at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
Prof Young is challenging a decision by his professional regulatory body, the General Medical Council (GMC), to overturn an earlier decision not to investigate allegations made by the Hyponatraemia Inquiry.
The public inquiry, which examined the deaths of five children following treatment in hospitals, accused Prof Young of misleading a coroner investigating the death of one of the children.
The inquiry report accused Prof Young, who carried out an independent review of the treatment of Claire Roberts for the Belfast Trust, of “misleading” the coroner at an inquest into her death in 2006.
The inquiry chair also found that Prof Young “shifted from his initial independent role… to one of protecting the hospitals and its doctors” and that he did not tell Claire’s parents about failings in her treatment.
Commenting on Prof Young’s absence, a spokeswoman from the Department of Health said: “Prof Ian Young is currently absent on a period of leave on health grounds from his role as chief scientific adviser (CSA) to the Department.
“The following arrangements will apply until further notice.
“Dr Declan Bradley, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences QUB, will represent Northern Ireland on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) as Deputy CSA (interim) and will also chair NI’s COVID-19 Modelling Group.
“Professor Stuart Elborn, Faculty Pro-Vice Chancellor, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences QUB, will represent Northern Ireland on the UK’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and will also chair NI’s Strategic Intelligence Group (SIG).”
Last June, it emerged there was no Northern Ireland representative on the Government’s SAGE committee during a crucial period of the pandemic.
Speaking at a Stormont health committee meeting, Prof Young said he was on long-term sick leave until the end of March, meaning he was unable to take part in SAGE meetings.