Family voice concerns at trolley death investigation

THE family of a Cookstown man who died on a trolley after spending 22 hours in a Belfast Accident and Emergency department have said important questions remain unanswered about the circumstances of their loved one’s death.

The 77-year-old Moveagh man, who was earlier named locally as Thomas Quinn, was found dead on the trolley in the Royal Victoria Hospital on March 6.

At the time the family said they were distressed to find out Mr Quinn, who suffered from Motor Neurone disease, had died alone on a trolley. His partner had been with him for most of the previous day and had gone home just a short time earlier, leaving her number with hospital staff should they need to contact her.

On Tuesday they met with the Medical Director of the Belfast Health Trust, who apologised for what had happened and admitted there had been a number of failings leading to the pensioner’s death.

An investigation is currently ongoing into what exactly happened - including how care was delivered to the man and the level of communication between medical staff during his hospitalisation.

However the family, who have communicated through SDLP MLA John Dallat, voiced concerns that the investigation might not be entirely independent.

Mr Dallat relayed their concerns and said: “The independent inquiry is made up of people from different health trusts and people from health trusts tend to meet each, they know each other. But again I was assured that this would in no way influence it.”

He described what had happened during the meeting between the family and staff at the trust.

“The trust officials, including the chief executive, have apologised to the family and have accepted that ‘it was a combination of failings’ which led to the pensioner dying alone on a trolley in the A&E department of the RVH,” he said.

“They also accepted that on reflection there should have been a post-mortem to establish the exact cause of death. The family were also told that all senior doctors have been briefed and working schedules changed to focus on the radical changes which have been implemented.

“No patient will ever spend more than 12 hours in a trolley wait.”