Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland health watchdog launches search for new chief

Stepping down: Olive MacLeod
Stepping down: Olive MacLeod

By Lisa Smyth

The body that oversees safety standards in hospitals, care homes and dental surgeries across Northern Ireland is looking for a new chief executive.

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) has advertised the top job at the organisation as the current chief executive prepares to leave the post at the end of a three-year secondment in June.

Olive MacLeod took up the post in 2016, temporarily leaving her job at the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, where she had been working as Director of Nursing and User Experience since 2011.

The Northern Trust last night refused to say whether Ms MacLeod will be returning to the £75,000-a-year post. A spokeswoman said: "We do not comment on the circumstances of individual employees."

The successful candidate for the RQIA job will be responsible for managing the organisation as it faces scrutiny for how it reacted to serious failings at a care home on the outskirts of west Belfast.

The police are currently carrying out a probe into allegations of neglect and abuse at Dunmurry Manor following on from the publication of a damning review into conditions there.

Ms MacLeod came under fire after controversial comments she made in which she said she would prefer to describe resident-on-resident sex abuse as "disinhibited behaviour".

The RQIA is responsible for inspecting healthcare settings across Northern Ireland to ensure basic safety standards are being met. In particular, it carries out unannounced inspections at hospital wards and care homes to establish how well they are being run and whether they are clean and safe. It has the power to close facilities or implement sanctions if RQIA inspectors are concerned about standards.

A spokesman from the RQIA said: "The position of RQIA chief executive is a key role in health and social care in Northern Ireland, and is being advertised on a permanent basis."

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