Northern Ireland

Will anyone be held to account over NI health targets?

Image caption Health Minister Edwin Poots said heads would roll during a Stormont debate on the health service

On Monday, the BBC revealed that all five Northern Ireland health trusts have breached A&E waiting time targets over the last year.

The 12-hour target - which states patients must be seen within that period - was breached 10,213 times.

Of the five organisations, the poorest performers were the Belfast Trust and the Northern Trust.

The big question is, what happens next, not only within the health service, but also for those who run it?

There have been criticisms from some of the health unions that no-one is being held to account for the running of Northern Ireland's hospitals.

The Health Minister, Edwin Poots, told the Assembly during a debate on the health service that heads would roll.


Speaking to the BBC on Thursday, the chief executive of the Northern Health Trust, Sean Donaghy, said he accepted there were challenges for the Northern Health Trust but they were not impossible to achieve.

When asked if he thought his position was untenable, Mr Donaghy told the BBC that he was not willing to resign and that was a matter for others to consider.

The Northern Health Trust has been faced with a number of challenges including massive waiting times at the Antrim Area Emergency Department.

Last month it also experienced massive disruption after dozens of patients became ill with vomiting and diarrhoea.

Under the governance structure, it is not within the power of the health minister to sack a trust chief executive.

This power lies only with the trust's chairman.

However, the minister can sack the chairman of a health trust if he feels he is is not carrying out his or her duties.

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