Health Trust to carry out review

THE Northern Health Trust is to carry out a full review of procedures after a blunder left a pensioner with undiagnosed cancer for months.

The Trust’s Chief Executive has apologised for the “unacceptable” delays in the case of Garvagh man Alan Kelso, who has just a few months to live.

The 81-year-old had an x-ray taken at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine last July after suffering a stroke.

Following the test, a radiologist recommended a more detailed CT scan be carried out after concerns were raised by a lesion which appeared in the x-ray.

However, the vital referral record was filed away and only came to light in December and it took another three months for the scan to be carried out, which confirmed Mr Kelso had a cancerous tumour.

At the time of the referral Mr Kelso may have been able to undergo life-saving chemotherapy, but by the time the scan was eventually carried out, he was not fit enough for the treatment.

The Trust has informed the family that it was unable to identify the signature of who was responsible for failing to pass on the referral.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show, Chief Executive Sean Donaghy said the Trust would “track down and match up serving doctors” who were working in the Causeway Hospital a year ago.

“The problem is not identifying a handwritten signature,” he said.

He also said that “at times” handwritten medical records “give us the difficulty of an indecipherable signature”.

And Mr Donaghy pointed to the fact that it “might well be” a medical secretary who had failed to pass on the vital record to a consultant.

In a statement, the Northern Trust said it was carrying out a “full review” to identify “any lessons to be learnt to help improve future practice”.