Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said she is concerned the lack of an Assembly will mean the potential mass misdiagnosis of neurology patients is not adequately addressed.
Ms Bradshaw was speaking after received a briefing from the Department of Health on actions being taken in response to the recall of over 3,000 neurology patients who may have been misdiagnosed. A redress scheme has been discussed and an independent inquiry into the recall will also take place.
“I am deeply concerned the lack of an Assembly is going to impede the ability of the Department of Health and the health trusts to ensure this situation is adequately addressed into the future on three grounds,” she said.
“In the long list of recommendations in the Hyponatraemia Inquiry Report, there were two of acute significance to this situation – the introduction of the duty of candour and the creation of a new post, called an independent medical examiner.
“With the pending independent inquiry, if this duty of candour was enshrined in law, it would require medical professionals to be open and honest with patients when something goes wrong with their treatment or care. Currently, there is potential this inquiry will not have full disclosure of all the circumstances.
“In addition, the Belfast Trust is having to rely on the goodwill of its neurology consultants to cover the recall review clinics and associated work. Introducing an independent medical examiner would have in place the process whereby already over-stretched healthcare professionals are not having to be diverted from their existing case-load of patients.
“The redress scheme options will be presented to the next Health Minister for consideration and to bring forward associated legislation. But as are all too aware, the prospect of having one in the near future is very slim, and I deeply fear those affected will be kept waiting for redress as appallingly as the victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse.”