'No need for Human Rights probe' - Poots

Published Thursday, 04 September 2014
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Health Minister Edwin Poots has said an inquiry by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission into emergency health care provision is "not needed" but that he will co-operate with it.

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The commission, over a series of 12 public meetings for the next two months, will be examining the experiences of the public and staff in the health service.

The inquiry, thought to be the first of its kind, was announced following a major incident at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Over 100 patients faced long waits to receive treatment while staff described the scene as like a war zone.

On Thursday, the commission officially begun the process with its first public meeting.

However, DUP Health Minister Edwin Poots questioned the need for the inquiry.

He told UTV: "I don't welcome the inquiry, sometimes you can have too many inquiries going on at one time. Nonetheless, I will co-operate with it."

Following January's major incident at the Royal the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) and the former chief medical officer for England are conducting their own investigations of emergency health care provision across Northern Ireland.

Edwin Poots added: "The RQAI is an independent body carrying out the same work and Sir Liam Donaldson is a true expert in the subject. So I am sure we will get to the bottom of the issue."

Paul Hunt, a former United Nations investigator with a speciality in health who is part of the commission's inquiry, said the process would add to the other probes.

With human rights being so closely aligned to the work of health care professionals, it is only right we look at this from a human rights perspective.

Paul Hunt, former United Nations Special Rapporteur

He said: "The inquiry and the eventual report will do something different. It will take a human rights-based approach to the issue.

"We will be looking at good quality treatment and the right to dignity and respect.

"Most important is that this process is participatory and will allow health staff and the public to tell us their views."

He added: "The issues have been troubling and this process will, we hope, contribute to positive changes and will make specific recommendations which will contribute to making things better.

"Its findings will be of interest at an international level, particularly to those in the UN who monitor these things and it will be of interest I am sure."

Les Allamby, head of the commission, added: "Over 700,000 people attend accident and emergency services every year in Northern Ireland.

"We expect to hear from people who have had positive experiences as well as those who have not. The aim of this inquiry is to have an improved emergency healthcare system in Northern Ireland, one that maintains human rights best practice."

The Commission will publish its final report and recommendations to the Northern Ireland Executive in April 2015.

This inquiry is about hearing from the people who use and work in our emergency care system. We want to identify what works, so it can be repeated, and what does not, so it can be improved.

Les Allamby, chief commissioner NIHRC


Deirdre Dougal suffers from a range of serious illnesses including diabetes, a thyroid problem and heart disease.

She made submissions to the commission's first public hearing on Thursday.

The wife of the late journalist Jim Dougal, was faced with a 17 hour wait when she visited the Royal Victoria Hospital's emergency department in February.

She argues the health department should not get more cash until it can promise improvement in service.

"When I was in hospital my children were told I was criticall ill, but no one told me anything," she told UTV.

"I never saw a doctor and had no idea what was wrong or what was happening.

"I had drips in my feet so could not even move about the ward, I was stuck in the trolley."

She added: "I want to see something come from all these reviews.

"Every profession is facing cutbacks and people have to work within their means.

"But the hospitals just seem to do what they like, they don't appear to be accountable to anyone.

"I would want to see what changes they are going to make before they get any more cash. I want to know I won't have a 17 hour wait again."

In a statement, the Belfast Health Trust said: "We are sorry Mrs Dougal had a poor experience.

"We know we have challenges in delivering emergency department services and we are on a major journey of improvement.

"We are determined to ensure a better emergency department experience for all our patients and their families."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
19 Comments
realistic in planet earth wrote (82 days ago):
what idiots actually listen to this 'politician'...... the man hasn't got a clue! maybe in a few years we'll actually get real politicians - not sheep farmers!!
Gav in Ballymena hey wrote (83 days ago):
I went into Antrim Hospital with heart palpitations and was seen too within 2 minutes even tho the A&E was completely packed out. Yes their short staffed but they also do a good job with what they have.
Paul in Craigavon wrote (83 days ago):
What a complete waste of time and money. The health service has been sucked dry of all resources. Currently we cannot staff a department safely, all overtime is banned which was compensating for the staffing shortfall, travel is banned, training courses and staff education are banned unless internal and even then gets cancelled as some participants have to claim travel to attend. Each trust has to save millions upon millions per year and are still expected to provide a safe and sustainable service. It just isn't possible. The NHS is heading for meltdown. Pressures on staff are at an all time high. Stress levels are through the roof. I watch colleagues break into tears for no reason. Of course we all expect to be seen immediately and not have to wait. Impossible targets and turnaround times unfortunately dictate waiting times. Abuse of the service is also a major factor. Abuse of staff is on the rise. It is not the staff's fault all the services have been cut.
Mick in Moira wrote (84 days ago):
Well UTV let's see if you print this as you very often don't post my very truthful posts . I posed this same question. To Stephen. Nolan the other day . Why are Departments like DFID ,Dept for International Development wasting Billions of our tax payers money on places like Iraq, Afghanistan ,DRC , Africa, ? Is this DFID paying off Corrupt governments to get a foot hold in theses places? if so Why ? Why waste our hard earned Tax payers money on these places when our NHS needs that money , as does our Education system, also DRD to make our roads safer. Who is accountable, for this Dept . The DFID money should and Must be spent here at home in UK not some far off place with corrupt ,evil governments .Let the charity's do what the DFID do that's why they are charity's don't waste our money via DFID . Let MSF , save the children , Oxfam,ICRC do that work that's what they get charity money for.DFID really are making a waste of our money. now let's just see if Ut v have the will and courage to print this post.If not well just confirms it's controlled by the powers that be in Whitehall. Copy to RTE, Sky news,BT,Nolan(again) File copy.newsletter ,Guardian, Observer,FT. Amnesty International
Elizabeth Thompson in Newtownabbey wrote (84 days ago):
My mum took a heart attack in May was taken to Antrim hospital then moved to the mater then moved to the royal she took another slight heart attack , was to get operation it was cancelled 15 mins before op this happened a few more times she finally got op last week but the stress and trauma of being in hospital for so long along with being put in so many wards every time we went to visit she was in a different ward also she was put in a ward of men twice I think it's not only a& e that needs looked at but the way the wards are run some of the doctors & nurses don't Evan come near you ! The whole experience of the past 4 months were very traumatic for us as a family !
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