Over 350 patients required a change to their treatment after a review in the wake of concerns raised over the “clinical practice” of a retired consultant urologist.
Details were revealed as the Department of Health welcomed the publication by the Southern Health Trust of the first outcomes report of the Urology Lookback Review.
It was initiated by the Southern Trust following concerns about the clinical practice of the now retired consultant urologist Aidan O’Brien.
It was in November 2020 that a public inquiry was launched over concerns about the work carried out by the urology consultant at Craigavon Area Hospital. The review covers a period between January 2019 and June 2020
Then Health Minister Robin Swann said 1,000 patients’ records have been recalled at the Southern Health Trust.
Mr Swann at that time that the concerns about clinical practice of the consultant urologist – who had retired earlier in 2020 – were “of the gravest concern”.
Now, the outcomes report shows that 2,112 patients have had their records examined.
Of these 527 of which were identified as requiring an appointment with a Southern Trust Urology Consultant.
Following review, 352 of these patients required a change in their care and treatment. The remaining 175 patients did not have any change.
The Southern Trust has also announced today (Wednesday) that the review is now being extended to patients who were treated by Mr O’Brien for a urology cancer which includes prostate, bladder, kidney and testicular cancers and treated for renal stone disease, who are alive today and have not had their care reviewed as part of the first Lookback Review group, or seen by another Southern Trust Urology Consultant.
The Trust will make direct contact with those individual patients, whose care will now be reviewed as part of this Lookback Review.
The Trust has set up a Freephone Helpline to assist urology patients and answer questions they may have about the Lookback Review. The Freephone number is 0800 414 8520 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am – 4pm).
Separately, it is believed that there may be a number of people who received care from Mr O’Brien as a private patient.
The Trust is calling on any private patients of Mr O’Brien, who may be concerned about any aspect of their urology care and treatment and who would like to be included in the review, to come forward.
Dr Maria O’Kane, Chief Executive of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, said: “I apologise sincerely to the affected patients and to their families that the care provided by the Trust fell below what was acceptable and that in some cases this caused distress or contributed to harm.
“I extend my commitment to making sure every patient is supported during this process, ensuring openness throughout.”
And a spokesperson for the Department of Health said it “wishes to again acknowledge the upset, distress and anxiety these matters have caused to the patients and families affected”.
“The Department remains committed to improving patient safety by learning from the circumstances that led to this Lookback Review, and for this reason established the Independent Public Inquiry into Urology Services in the Southern HSC Trust,” they added.
Responding to the report, Mr O’Brien, said: “This Lookback Review was initiated in June 2020 on foot of an incorrect allegation made by the Trust that patients had not been placed on a waiting list for readmission for ureteric stent removal or replacement.
“Changes to management plans, such as those exemplified in the report, are commonly recommended or required when patients are reviewed or when their elective admissions for procedures are considered, for several reasons including changes in their circumstances, changes in their general health or in the condition being managed. Such changes have been all the more commonly required when patients have waited years for review and years for elective admission due to the inadequacy of the urology service provided by Southern Health and Social Care Trust.
“The Lookback Review has been conducted by the Trust itself, and I was not consulted or invited to provide any input. I therefore believe that the report contains questionable inferences and conclusions which should be regarded with caution. I remain fully engaged with the ongoing independent public inquiry, which is looking more broadly at urology services which have been provided by the Trust.”
The Inquiry is chaired by Christine Smith KC and will recommence hearing from witnesses in September 2023.