Investigations & Analysis - Northern Ireland
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Patient safety in Northern Ireland's hospitals has been under scrutiny in recent weeks

Concerns raised about health service incident reports

09 APRIL 2014

BY NIALL MCCRACKEN

NORTHERN Ireland’s top health officials have been questioned over the reliability of a key reporting mechanism designed to ensure patient safety in hospitals, The Detail can reveal.

Hospitals are expected to record any incident connected to the serious injury or death of a patient in what are called Adverse and Serious Adverse Incident reports, so that lessons can be learned.

But in a letter obtained by The Detail, the chairman of an inquiry into child deaths in hospitals here has said he has “significant concerns” about inconsistencies in how the data is recorded.

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Northern Ireland's Attorney General, John Larkin

Attorney General seeks access to hospital death records

02 APRIL 2014

BY NIALL MCCRACKEN

HOSPITALS could be forced to surrender documents and computer records on controversial deaths under new investigative powers being sought by Northern Ireland’s Attorney General.

John Larkin’s intervention comes as a string of hospital tragedies in the Northern Health Trust, including child deaths and the failure to report serious incidents to the coroner, are under scrutiny after a major review was launched by Health Minister Edwin Poots.

Today, The Detail can reveal that the Attorney General wrote to the Assembly’s Justice Committee last month alerting them to a weakness in the legislation that means his office has no power to secure access to trusts’ confidential documents, such as Serious Adverse Incident reports.

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Almost 60 cases were reported late to the coroner's office over the last three and a half years

Fresh calls for reform after 56 hospital deaths reported late to coroner

01 APRIL 2014

BY NIALL MCCRACKEN

THE outcry over how a health trust handled 11 hospital deaths could be set to grow, with new figures revealing that almost 60 deaths were not immediately reported to the coroner despite a legal obligation to do so.

Health Minister Edwin Poots has launched an inquiry in to criticism of how the Northern health trust responded in the aftermath of 11 deaths since 2008.

But The Detail has obtained figures from the Coroner’s Office revealing that 56 deaths in hospitals across Northern Ireland were reported late to the Coroner’s Service between January 2010 and March 2013.

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Neil Cormican
Neil Cormican

“Serious error of judgment” in not reporting Northern Trust death to coroner

30 MARCH 2014

BY NIALL MCCRACKEN

THE family of a man whose death is one of 11 under investigation at the Northern Health Trust say they feel “let down by a process which is not fit for purpose.”

The Detail can reveal that 81-year-old Neil Cormican, a grandfather of 17 children, died in April 2010 after he was mistakenly prescribed potassium while being treated at Antrim Area Hospital.

Following his death health staff failed to immediately refer the case to the coroner’s office despite an obligation to do so and gave the family the option of not referring the case.

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