SDLP Mid-Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone has called on the Health Minister to take “urgent action” at Antrim Area Hospital after a leaked report said it was ‘failing fundamental human needs’
Mr McGlone made his comments after the leaked review, carried out by two leading health care experts, said the hospital was being “driven by rules and protocols”.
The Health and Social Care Board asked top English GP Dr Ian Rutter and nursing chief Mary Hinds out their own investigations into the hospital, after years of high-profile patient problems and soaring waiting times.
It is to be published this week and the analysis by both health experts sets out a worrying picture of the current leadership and culture within the Northern Trust facility.
In his review Dr Rutter spells out a raft of failings in Antrim’s A&E department, criticising patient admissions and discharge, poor communication between GP’s and hospital consultants and severe delays in diagnostics.
Ms Hinds review highlights fractured relationships between senior managers and medical staff.
“These reports expose serious problems at Antrim Area Hospital,” Mr McGlone tells the MAIL.
“Having been asked by the Health and Social Care Board to examine issue of the unacceptable waiting times at the A&E unit, the reports found a hospital culture which is ‘at times bureaucratic, driven by rules and protocols, with a focus on targets and finance’.
“Most damning of all, in relation to the A&E unit, Dr Ian Rutter is reported to have concluded, “The issues which have been identified… have led to patient care which lacks dignity and which fails to meet fundamental human needs”.
“It is also worrying that the reports make reference to staff being ‘disempowered’ and that there are ‘frustrations with the effectiveness of the current medical system to effectively engage frontline medical staff’.
“I have repeatedly warned the Minister that Antrim Area Hospital had not been properly prepared for the impact of the closure of rural hospitals’ A&E units.”
“These reports show frontline hospital staff under unacceptable pressure and a management structure unable to cope,” said Mr McGlone.
“It is clear that there is a crisis at Antrim Area Hospital. The Minister can no longer pretend that the current system can cope.”
The SDLP MLA has now tabled a number of questions to the Health Minister on the issues raised in the report.
While the reports point to “committed” staff groups and improvements in some services both are littered with huge concerns on the hospital’s ability to provide ‘high quality care’ whilst “understaffed and under huge strain”.
A Northern Trust spokesperson said it could not comment on the reviews.
The Trust spokesperson said: “It is not appropriate for the trust to comment on a report which is not yet in the public domain.”