Northern Ireland news

Urology services inquiry to host private patient hearings

Christine Smith, chair of the Urology Services Inquiry. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

THE chair of an inquiry investigating a consultant urologist's work and a health trust's handling of the case will begin a series of private hearings with patients and families tomorrow.

Christine Smith, who is leading the Urology Services Inquiry, said she wants to "learn, first-hand, about their experiences with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust" ahead of the formal opening of the inquiry in November.

The inquiry was established to review the trust’s handling of urology services prior to May 2020.

More than 1,000 former patients of Aidan O'Brien were recalled in 2020 following an internal investigation by the southern trust.

The consultant urologist was based in Craigavon Area Hospital for most of his career and retired in June 2020. He also had an extensive private list.

The inquiry team is set to "probe oversight and governance arrangements in the southern trust, as well as the escalation of complaints to other bodies including the Department of Health".

Hearings are set to begin today and continue until Thursday and will be held in private.

Public hearings are due to start in November when the inquiry officially opens, with the team expected to call evidence from employees and former employees of the trust, Department of Health and Mr O’Brien.

Ms Smith said: "While the work of the inquiry is focused on issues and systems of governance concerning the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, behind those issues are patients and families who were adversely affected by the treatment that they received from the trust.

"The inquiry expects to make recommendations when it concludes gathering all its evidence which, if accepted, will positively impact patient safety.

"It is important, therefore, that our work is informed by patient experience and that patients and families have an opportunity to tell the Inquiry about their experiences and that we have an opportunity to listen to them.

"I would once again urge anyone who wishes the inquiry to know about what happened to them or their family member to contact our team, and I would like to assure any witness who engages with the inquiry that they will be treated sensitively throughout the process."

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