Belfast Telegraph

Stormont minister Poots’ pledge to hold NHS managers to account reiterated

By Lisa Smyth

One of the most senior health service officials has backed up statements by Health Minister Edwin Poots that NHS managers will be held to account if they do not address failures in their departments.

The permanent secretary in the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety said he expects difficulties facing our A&E departments to be resolved within three months.

Andrew McCormick made the comments when he appeared at the Stormont health committee yesterday alongside the Health Minister and chief executive of the Health & Social Care Board.

Mr McCormick, Edwin Poots and John Compton were there to give an update on plans to overhaul health and social services in Northern Ireland.

Chair of the committee Sue Ramsey told them they must get a handle on the current problems in the service as soon as possible.

The Sinn Fein MLA said it was not acceptable to simply discuss solutions.

She said they were all being held to account by the public over the failures and asked what NHS managers were doing to address the situation.

Ms Ramsey asked: “What are all the managers doing?

“There seems to be managers on top of managers. The reality is a lot of them are not working, and you get it in the neck and we get it in the neck.

“What are they doing? Where is the accountability? I’m held to account every election.

“There are people getting paid substantial amounts of money, and because it is public money we should not shy away from this.”

Mr Mc Cormick replied: “We need to encourage good practice. If it isn’t delivered, there is a holding to account.”

Ms Ramsey continued: “Are you going to hold people to account if they don’t get it right?”

Mr Poots told her: “If people fail, they fail me and I can’t tolerate people failing. Eventually it comes up the line.”

Meanwhile, Mr Poots also said he will not approve proposals to axe 500 nursing posts in Northern Ireland.

The minister told the health committee such a reduction in nursing staff “will not happen on my watch”.

Mr Poots also said it was unacceptable that 13 A&E nursing posts remained unfilled over the winter and said he expected eight of these to be filled soon.


The A&E at Belfast City Hospital closed last year as there were not enough senior doctors in the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust to work in three casualty units. At the time, health bosses, including Health Minister Edwin Poots, said the move would result in better patient care and denied it would lead to chaos at the Mater, Royal Victoria, Antrim Area and Ulster hospitals. However, the situation in the remaining A&Es deteriorated rapidly since January leading to concerns the closure of the casualty unit at Belfast City Hospital is to blame.

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