The Northern Health Trust have apologised to those affected after it was revealed that 11 deaths, including those of five babies are under investigation.
Health Minister Edwin Poots told the Assembly that he had been made aware of 20 cases in which the trust’s response was said to be below standard.
The patients were seen in the emergency, obstetrics, gynaecology or X ray departments.
It is not clear whether the deaths were avoidable. Edwin Poots said the trust’s response should have been better.
In a statement from the Northern Trust, they said the Trust “recognises that, on these occasions, we have fallen short of the standards the public should expect from us.”
The statement continues: “More critically we failed to learn from these incidents. To those people affected we apologise.
“We have identified 20 separate incidents over a five year period where the response by the Trust was below standard. We have advised the department and welcome the Minsters statement today and his continued support.
“These instances were across a number of areas within the Trust including: obstetrics and gynaecology; x-ray follow up; and the Trust’s emergency departments. These incidents involved deaths in 11 cases of which 5 were perinatal deaths.
“The patients and their families involved have been let down at a time when they put their trust in us. While we cannot change that fact, what we can do is learn from our mistakes and how to prevent them in the future. The Trust is committed to a culture of openness and transparency pervades every service we provide.”
The statement also went into detail about the issues raised about x-ray reporting and pregnancy care:
“In the Northern Trust we care for 6,000 pregnant women on a yearly basis. The vast majority of these women tell us that they are well looked after and felt safe in our care. In the cases identified we cannot comment on individual cases but are working closely with the families concerned.
“In relation to x-ray reporting, the Trust on a very few occasions has failed to follow up the recommendations for further investigation contained in the report of the x-ray. The Trust, on discovering this issue on the Causeway site, audited 35,132 reports and found 9 patients that had not been followed up, 1 of whom turned out to be of clinical concern.
“The Trust wants to make it clear there is no concern regarding the accuracy of the x-ray reporting. All x-rays have been fully and correctly reported.
“Members of the public should be assured that x-rays have been fully reported but if they have any concerns they can ring 028 9442 4804 from 12.00 noon until 8.00 pm Friday 28 March 2014 and between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm from Saturday 29 March 2014 onwards.”