Northern Ireland

Trust 'put patients at risk' over appointment targets

Craigavon Area Hospital
Image caption Consultants at at Craigavavon Area Hospital have raised concerns over outpatient appointments

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey is to meet the chief executive of the Southern Health & Social Care Trust on Thursday.

It follows claims by a senior consultant who works at the Craigavon Area Hospital.

He said patient safety is being put at risk because of a concentration on meeting targets.

The Southern Health Trust said it was working on a solution for an increased demand for outpatient reviews.

The consultant, who did not want to be identified, said post-operative patients had their case reviews postponed as doctors are too busy trying to meet new patient targets.

Hospitals have to meet targets for new patients but not for outpatients.

The senior consultant told the Stephen Nolan Show that after a patient is treated for the first time, the follow up care and monitoring by the hospital was being delayed in order to meet the demands of new patient appointments.

The consultant said the outpatient monitoring and follow-up appointments were "just as important" as seeing new patients.

Safety

The consultant also claimed patients were being prioritised by the alphabetical order of their surname in order to meet the new patient targets.

The trust has denied this claim and said patients were seen according to clinical need.

In a statement, Mairead McAlinden, Southern Trust chief executive, said that she wanted to reassure the public.

"I met with the senior consultant medical team in the Southern Trust and they expressed unanimous disappointment at the continuing anonymous allegations regarding the safety of our services," she said.

"It is the view of my senior clinical colleagues and myself that the most appropriate way to deal with the serious concerns of a medical professional, or indeed any member of staff, is for him or her to raise these issues using the processes which exist within the Southern Trust. "

Mrs McAlinden also expressed "disappointment" that staff at Craigavon were coming to the media with allegations instead of raising them with managers in the trust.

"I would once again ask that this colleague - or colleagues - making public allegations would come forward in complete confidence to either myself, our medical director, or any of our senior consultant medical team and we will make ourselves immediately available to discuss the details of their concerns."

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