Trust director speaks about baby deaths

Published Thursday, 03 April 2014
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A senior director of the Northern Trust has said he wishes to meet the families of babies Erin McAuley and Cara Rocks, who died while in the Trust's care, to apologise in person.

Trust director speaks about baby deaths
Senior director Paul Cummings speaking to UTV. (© UTV)

Last week it was revealed that the Northern Trust is investigating the deaths of 11 patients, including five babies.

They are among 20 cases where the response was deemed "below standard" between 2008 and 2013.

This week UTV told the story of two of those families affected, they lost their babies at the Causeway Hospital due to mistakes and missed opportunities in their care.

Paul Cummings, was appointed on secondment last year as Senior Director of Turnaround to help deliver the changes required at the Trust.

He said there were many lessons to be learned from such cases.

"Each of the individual cases has an individual reason, and there's not a general theme across the whole 20 because they're in different areas, they're in different specialties and indeed they're in different hospitals," he said on Thursday.

"So there's not one individual lesson to be learned, I think the lesson for the organisation is that we need to be an open and transparent organisation that puts the patient and their family first."

He continued: "People must be wondering at home, is our hospital safe? And I have to honestly look them in the eye and say yes, it is safe for you to come to this hospital.

"In these individual cases, yes, we committed a mistake, an error was made and we got it wrong."

Mr Cummings said it was "not good enough" that families felt they had to go to the media for answers and he has requested to meet families to say sorry for what they experienced.

"I need to look them in the eye and say - I am sorry on behalf of this organisation, we should not have treated you like this, we should have been open and honest," he said.

"You have suffered enough and this organisation should not add to your suffering by how we treat you and the lack of information only added to your suffering."

However, Mr Cummings admitted though that mistakes in the health service are inevitable.

"Mistakes will happen, we are dealing with 11,500 staff, who try to get it right on every single occasion, but on occasion, we will get it wrong. We are all human, we will make mistakes," he said.

"We have to learn how we can prevent those mistakes happening in the future."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Al in N.Ireland wrote (303 days ago):
Perhaps there are problems across the NHS in general. That was something he did not seem to want to consider. From my perspective, having experienced serious negative issues from NHS staff in different areas, I am deeply concerned. In saying that, there have also been very good experiences from sacrificial and caring staff. I know of others with similar negative experiences who are equally concerned. There are issues that need to be addressed. Obviously I am not saying that all staff have such issues of course but some do and that must not be ignored with statements like: “Mistakes will happen.” Or with general emotional appeals to the great sacrificial work of nurses. Just because most of these dear folks work hard under too much stress, get paid peanuts (nurses anyway) and sacrifice their lives for others doesn't mean they all do so without exception. I find it a serious problem that there is no credible independent accountability for GPs and medical staff in general. People just give up. If you make a complaint you are likely to be refused care. So, many people do not complain out of fear. What good would it do anyway? The only thing we can do is go to the media and hope they will put our case forward into the public arena. There is nowhere else to go. It is not only my view that the general culture in the NHS is a serious issue and it needs to change. This is difficult as culture is one of the most stubborn things to attempt to alter but that does not mean we should ignore it and let it go on. There are valiant staff who fight against this culture but it is like fighting a T-rex with a bent twig. Trying to survive with your conscience intact must be very difficult. The NHS is a vast, inefficient and all too often dangerous money pit. There are too many managers and too few doctors and nurses. The correct balance needs to be achieved and the culture addressed by those in power who care more about people than they do about the political consequences. Forgive me for being skeptical but...
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