MLA raises public inquiry concern

Concerns about the remit of a public inquiry into the work of a former consultant urologist was raised with the Health Minister at a Stormont committee.
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DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley told Minister Robin Swan at yesterday’s NI Assembly Health Committee he was ‘deeply concerned as to the grounds’ of an inquiry in to former consultant urologist Mr Aidan O’Brien.

Mr Swan had called a public inquiry into the work of the former Craigavon Hospital specialist last November.

He outlined 906 patient reviews, 287 families contacted and nine adverse incidents.

Mr Buckley said: “I am deeply concerned as to the grounds for this inquiry. It would appear when we look at other thresholds for public inquiries, it appears to be weak.

“And the issues surrounding Mr O’Brien’s case focus entirely on administrative issues rather than any clinical concerns or complaints. With a public inquiry costing massive amounts of public money, surely there is a better way to establish the way forward.”

Health Minister Robin Swan replied: “I hear the points you are making. A public inquiry has been called. I called it in regards to, as of the 8th of February, 906 patient records have been reviewed, 287 anomalies have been identified. “We have nine initial Serious Adverse Incidents. I referred to that in an oral statement in November.

“There’s a concern with regards to private patients that have been seen and we don’t have contacts for. I am urging people to come forward.”

Mr Buckley said: “I know you have taken decisions like this before where you are never afraid to go back and rethink and look at the evidence that is before you. You made reference to your statement in the Assembly and I don’t believe we have been garnered with the full facts, including the point, and it is a very crucial point, that there were significant prior grievances initiated by Mr O’Brien against the Trust which had not been dealt with. That is something we as an Assembly had not prior sight of or even referenced to in your statement.”

The Upper Bann MLA continued: “When I talk to both medical professionals and patients I have not met one that can criticise Mr O’Brien’s work. “In fact, quite the opposite. They believe Mr O’Brien has been treated abysmally by the Trust and it is their actions which should actually be investigated. Not a man who has given a lifetime of service. I hope you the Minister could give this further consideration.

“And if it does go down the road of a public inquiry, I would urge him to think on those terms of references, to engage the committee and the wider Assembly to ensure that if we do have to go down that route, we can gain a full picture of all that went on during Mr O’Brien’s time with the Trust.”

Mr Swan said: “I think the point you make is one of the benefits of a public inquiry because all that will come out.

“That is another avenue of inquiry and it may prove one way or the other whether those concerns actually stand their ground.” He added that he intended to go down the road of a public inquiry.

A Southern Trust spokeswoman said: “This matter will be for the public inquiry. The Trust does not comment on current or former employees.”


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