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News / July 7, 2011

Mouth cancer inquiry finds ‘serious deficiencies’

by Guy Hiscott

Health Minister Edwin Poots has published the executive summary of the independent inquiry into the recall of patients who had received treatment at the Dental Hospital in Belfast.

The inquiry, chaired by Brian Fee QC, was set up in February 2011 to evaluate the quality of care provided to patients who were recalled for review.

This recall was undertaken by the Belfast Trust after concerns arose about the appropriateness and timing of patient referrals and treatment at the hospital. The review team was also tasked with evaluating the effectiveness of communications between and within the Dental Hospital, health and social care organisations, the Department, patients and the general public.

The inquiry was also asked to make recommendations for improvements to quality and communications.

Mr Poots said: ‘My first priority is the safety of patients. And I want to make it clear that the health and social care service treats hundreds of thousands of patients every year, and, in the vast majority of cases, to a very high standard.

‘However, this report finds that there were serious deficiencies in the quality of care provided to a number of patients of the oral medicine services provided by the Dental Hospital and the Belfast Trust. These deficiencies may have impacted adversely on the health of some. I want to apologise to people who were affected for the serious failings in their care. The system has let them down. I intend to do all that I can to ensure that those failings are rectified.

‘This is why we have looked at what happened, why it happened, and how a further incident can be prevented.

‘I want to thank Brian Fee for his report and I will consider all of the 45 recommendations it contains.’

The Dental Hospital Executive Summary can be accessed by clicking here.

The full report cannot be published at this stage, pending completion of the proper processes of investigations by the Belfast Trust and by the regulators.