Baby death concerns

Altnagelvin Hospital
Altnagelvin Hospital

The Western Trust last night defended a decision not to inform the public of the death of a baby who died of the bacterial infection Pseudomonas at Altnagelvin Hospital in December.

The Trust made it known at the time that there had been an incident of the uncommon infection at the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but it was not confirmed until this weekend that a baby had died.

A spokesperson said yesterday the decision was taken in the interests of patient confidentiality.

Three infants at Belfast’s Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital died over a two-week period this month, having contracted the Pseudomonas infection. Health officials last night said there was no link between the deaths in the two hospitals and that the strains of Pseudomonas infection in Altnagelvin and the Royal Jubilee Maternity were different.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has cruised the Western Trust for not informing the public sooner. Continued from page 1

Speaking to the Sunday Journal yesterday Mr. Durkan said communication between the trust and the public was crucial in instances like

this.

He said: “Communication with the public at all times is vital but particularly in these circumstances to ensure patient safety.

“Communication is also important to ensure a relationship of trust between the Western Trust and the public and by failing to release this sort of thing early they

find themselves on the defensive and fire fighting the situation.”

Mr. Durkan continued: “This is a sad and tragic story and our hearts go out to the family involved but by not being forthcoming with these details at the time it can lead people to believe that something is being hidden.”

A statement released by The Western Trust in December said:

“All the necessary infection prevention and control measures were put in place and the infection has now been eradicated.

“Families with babies at the unit were informed of the position and assured that such action was taken as a precautionary measure to ensure the safe care of the babies being nursed at the unit.”

The spokesperson continued: “Respecting confidentiality the Trust cannot comment on an individual patient.

“If a patient or their relative has any issue in relation to their treatment we would encourage them to raise these issues through the Trust’s comments and complaints system - the Patients’ Advocate Office.”

Speaking last night, a department of Health Spokesperson said: “At a teleconference attended by key figures from the health and social care service, Mr Poots was told neonatal units across Northern Ireland continue to work closely, according to established arrangements, should the need arise to transfer mothers due to give birth or babies who require special neonatal care.”

The spokesperson added; “As is normal working practice, the decision about where a baby should be born or if a baby should be transferred will be made on an individual basis by the clinicians.”