Following information being released yesterday by the Southern Trust concerning incidents of Covid-19 on the Male Medical Ward at Daisy Hill Hospital an MLA has made a call for an urgent independent investigation into the handling of the outbreak.

Speaking about the outbreak, Newry and Armagh representative Justin McNulty said "‘Staff and patients are really anxious and are worried. Staff have contacted me raising their concerns and worries about testing and cleaning. I have since had two very robust meetings with the Trust’s Chief Executive raising those concerns.  I was astonished to learn staff were advised that they did not need tested if they or indeed the person who had tested positive was wearing PPE.  It was only after my intervention that ‘precautionary’ testing took place days later. Furthermore, staff also advised that wards were not subject to a deep clean following positive tests."

Daisy Hill Hospital. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Daisy Hill Hospital. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

Deeply Concerning

Mr McNulty continued "This is deeply concerning and must be subject to a rigours and independent investigation.  A Serious Adverse Incident has been declared at Craigavon Area Hospital and the RQIA have been tasked with investigating events there.  We need to see the RQIA in Daisy Hill.  These are two hospitals in the one Trust area - something is not right. Lessons are not being learned and meanwhile staff and patient safety is being compromised.

"Staff are at their whit’s end. They are working in very difficult pressurized circumstances.  They need supported and given the confidence that every measure will be implemented to ensure both they and their patients are protected."

Concluding the MLA said "‘Families are grief stricken. Their loved ones have been admitted to hospital Covid free and they have contracted the virus on the ward. They were expecting to have their loved ones at home by now after routine care but tragically they will never be coming home."

Trust Refute MLA's Statement

The Southern Trust have replied to Mr McNulty's statement saying that they have been following prevention and control guidance since the start of the pandemic and refute any suggestion otherwise.

A Spokesperson said "The Trust has been following public health infection prevention and control guidance since the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic and would strongly refute any suggestion otherwise.

"The outbreak in Daisy Hill Hospital will be subject to a level 3 Serious Adverse Incident review."

Kimmins - Deep Concern over rise in Covid cases

MLA Liz Kimmins has also expressed her concerns.

Ms Kimmins said “I am deeply concerned that over 20 staff in the male medical ward at Daisy Hill hospital have now tested positive with Covid19 and sadly another three people have died.

“I extend my sympathies to the families of those who have died and wish those who are ill or self-isolating a speedy recovery.

“Since the outbreak last week, we have been highlighting the failure to test staff working at Daisy Hill and there is now a sharp rise in cases.

“I have raised the issue of testing with both the Health Minister and the Chief Executive and urged them to make testing available to workers.

“While workers are now being tested, this cannot happen again. Our health workers are fighting the virus on the frontline and should be protected.

“Visiting at the hospital remains paused and I would urge people to keep following the public health advice to stop the spread of Covid19.”

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