Trust ‘misled’ public

Two patients at serious risk due the x-ray blunder at Altnagelvin Hospital were not notified until last Thursday, it’s been learned.

And just hours later Stormont’s Health Committee was told by Western Health Trust bosses that all of those who received late diagnoses were notified about the situation betweeen between August and October 2010.

The revelation was made by Foyle MLA Martina Anderson, who has accused the Trust of misleading the public over the fiasco.

She said: “I am in possession of information which shows that two families of patients affected were in fact not notified of the delay in the diagnosis of their loved ones until last Thursday – a matter of hours before the Chief Executive told the Health Committee that all four families were notified between August and October 2010.”

She said she raised the matter with Health Minister Michael McGimpsey, who said he would be “shocked” at such a turn of events.

Ms Anderson was part of a delegation of Derry’s assembly members who met with the Western Trust in the city on Friday.

She said: “I was seriously frustrated at the less than forthcoming attitude of the senior management of both the Health Board and Western Trust when I questioned them on the latest administrative failure at Altnagelvin Hospital.

“This sequence of events would tend to signify that proper administration procedure were not in place and that the Trust CEO must accept responsibility for this state of affairs. The fact that two families were not notified in the timeframe suggested by the CEO’s of both the Trust and the Board would suggest that either they misled the North West MLA’s on Friday or they were unaware of the true facts.”

Either way it is unacceptable.”

Ms Anderson added that neither the Health Board or Western Trust, had been able to provide accurate information on how many individuals were affected by the delay in processing the 18,500 X-rays.

“This deficit of accountability is not acceptable and I believe that the Health Board and Western Trust CEOs along with the Minister have serious questions to answer in regards to the administration practices at Altnagelvin Hospital.

“The Minister today announced an “urgent independent inquiry” into matters relating to regional oral medicine service and I am calling on him to extend this to cover the debacle of the back log of 18,500 X-rays at Altnagelvin.”

Meanwhile, the Western Health Trust could face an avalanche of compensation claims as patients line up to sue the body over the Altnagelvin Hospital x-ray blunder.

Law firms in Derry are compiling cases against the Trust on behalf of patients affected by Altnagelvin hospital’s failure to carry out written assessments of 18,500 x-rays for several months in 2010.

Derwin Harvey, of Hilary Carmichael Solicitors, said the Waterside firm has been inundated with calls from people “concerned” about the fiasco

“There certainly is the potential for an avalanche of cases,” said Mr.Harvey, “We’ve had a big response from people affected and many have arranged appointments to discuss their cases. At this stage we have spoken to a lot of people with very serious concerns. Of course each individual case will be decided on its own merits,” he added.