Covid-19 Coronavirus

Statement - Minister for Health and Social Care David Ashford MHK

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The department is currently addressing a matter of serious concern which has arisen within the breast radiology department at Noble's Hospital in respect of one radiologist. A number of women patients who were seen are affected.

I will today explain the nature and consequences of this matter and the actions being taken to urgently address it, in accordance with our duty of candour.

At the outset of the Statement, on behalf of the department, I offer the women concerned and their families a sincere apology.

In September 2017 it became apparent that some women who had attended assessments in the breast clinic between January 2015 and March 2017 may not have had all necessary investigations.

As a result of this issue coming to light, an external review was commissioned of all cases seen during the defined period by the doctor concerned. This external review was precautionary but was considered an essential step to ensure any cases which require follow-up were identified.

The individual radiologist concerned is no longer employed at Noble's Hospital.

The external review has been rigorous and complex. In total, more than 1,200 cases have been reviewed by radiologists at centres in the UK, with expert opinions sought in each and every case.

This process has unfortunately taken longer than wished or expected, largely due to the complexities involved in commissioning this volume of work.

It was however, vital to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issues we face, in order to respond appropriately to our patients and to be able to make a definitive announcement today.

Letters have been sent to all of the women involved in the external review, in line with our duty of candour, which they will receive today. For the vast majority, this letter to them is of reassurance.

However, of the 1,213 cases reviewed it was identified that 26 women should be recalled for additional assessment, which will be carried out quickly and will show whether any further treatment is needed.

Clinics have been organised over the coming days at Noble's Hospital, where the women recalled will have an opportunity to discuss the review and all of their concerns with our professional team. In addition, we have set up a telephone helpline which will be staffed by healthcare professionals, to deal with any queries those affected by the review may have.

All those who receive letters have the helpline details. The number is 01624 642400, operated Monday to Friday from 10am-12 noon, 2-4pm and 5-8pm. Outside these times patients can leave contact details and will be called back as soon as possible.

I would like to emphasise publicly that this caseload review was in respect of the work of one radiologist, and that it does not therefore affect all women seen at the clinic during the time frame, who will have been dealt with by other radiologists.

Naturally, I understand that today's news is likely to cause distress and anxiety for some. We are doing everything possible to ease that distress.

We intend to investigate fully the causes of this issue to establish why practice within one of our services at Noble's Hospital fell short of the high standards we should all expect.

However, our first priority is to respond to the needs of all those affected by the review; anything else is at this stage of secondary importance.

There is much focus at present on governance in the health service we offer and rightly so. I can give an assurance that clinical governance to ensure patient safety at our hospitals is a top priority and is reviewed on an ongoing basis.

I will be making a statement in Tynwald on this issue next week.

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