Northern Ireland news

Families of Covid victims to receive draft report into Southern Trust outbreaks

A Level Three Serious Adverse Incident investigation was launched last September into deaths at Craigavon Area Hospital. Picture by Mal McCann
Paul Ainsworth

FAMILIES affected by Covid-19 clusters that led to the death of 15 patients within the Southern Health and Social Care Trust are to receive the findings of an independent investigation into the outbreaks.

A draft report by an independent panel investigating the outbreaks which occurred between August and October of last year has been received by the Southern Trust.

The panel led by a consultant microbiologist from the London North West University Trust, Dr Guduru Gopal Rao, was tasked with the report after health minister Robin Swann announced a Level Three Serious Adverse Incident (SAI) investigation last September into deaths at Craigavon Area Hospital.

Now the draft report will be shared with 32 families affected by the virus outbreaks, and Minister Swann said those families will be able to engage with the panel in the coming months, before the final report is submitted.

"When I announced this investigation in September last year, I gave a commitment to the families concerned that they would be involved in the SAI process," Mr Swann said.

"I therefore welcome the Southern Trust’s decision to appoint a family liaison officer and I understand this has assisted families in their engagement with the process. I also welcome the fact these families will now receive the draft report and will be able to provide further views to the Independent Panel.

“It remains my expectation that the findings of the final report will be made public in due course. In the meantime, I want to thank the families for their contributions to this critical learning process to date and to assure them that many of the risk mitigations to reduce the spread of Covid-19 have been implemented across all Trusts.

"However, it is also important to note that the risk posed by Covid-19 cannot be completely removed. This remains a lethal and highly infectious disease and we must remain vigilant to these risks across all healthcare settings and in all aspects of our daily lives."

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