‘Only a first class hospital service will be acceptable’ - O’Loan’s challenge to Trust

SIR, -- After the announcement of Phase 1 of the Sue Page report into the Northern Health Trust only a first class hospital service is acceptable from the Trust.

It is clear now if there was any doubt about it before that the people who depend on the hospital services provided by the Northern Health Trust have been getting a second class service.

There will be many people who have had good experiences but taken as a whole hospital care is just not good enough. The long delays in A&E are bad enough in themselves, but I believe that they are merely a symptom of deeper and wider problems.

I am very struck by the conclusion in the report that patients flow poorly through the Trust system and do not undergo a daily review. This means that there are blockages and wasted capacity which in turn lead to unnecessary waits.

This is in addition to too many people entering the health system through A&E in the first place because the GP and out-of-hours system is not flexible enough, in my opinion.

I hope that empowering clinicians to lead change will really work. It seems to me that those same clinicians had the levers in their hands already.

Failures at the Northern Trust relate to management and the solution will lie in management. How much of that management failure was within the Trust and how much at Regional Board and Department level, we have not been told.

The people who live in the Northern Trust area get most of their hospital care from their local hospitals. We can’t be fobbed off with second best any longer.”

I also note that the rescue plan for the Northern Trust is in three phases, and that a systematic programme of service reviews to implement Transforming Your Care will only occur at phase 3. Yet we had been told that the Trust was ready to deliver Transforming Your Care and that it is the future for quality healthcare.

I do not see much in this latest report to give me confidence.

Yours etc.,

SDLP Councillor Declan O’Loan.