Draft report on COVID-19 clusters and subsequent deaths received

Date published: 16 September 2021

A draft copy of the Independent Level 3 Serious Adverse Incident (SAI) Report relating to COVID-19 clusters and subsequent deaths has now been received.

Health Minister Robin Swann has advised that the Southern Health and Social Care Trust (SHSCT) has now received the draft report relating to COVID-19 clusters which tragically led to the deaths of 15 patients within the Trust between August and October 2020. 

The draft report by the Independent Panel, which was chaired by Dr Guduru Gopal Rao, a Consultant Microbiologist from the London North West University Trust, will now be shared with the 32 families impacted by these outbreaks, and with the Health and Social Care Board.

There will now be an opportunity for families to engage with the Independent Panel in the months ahead, before the final report is submitted to the Trust. 

The Minister welcomed the development, saying: “When I announced this investigation in September last year, I gave a commitment to the families concerned that they would be involved in the SAI process.  I therefore welcome the Southern Trust’s decision to appoint a family liaison officer and I understand this has assisted families in their engagement with the process.  I also welcome the fact these families will now receive the draft report and will be able to provide further views to the Independent Panel. 

“It remains my expectation that the findings of the final report will be made public in due course.  In the meantime, I want to thank the families for their contributions to this critical learning process to date and to assure them that many of the risk mitigations to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have been implemented across all Trusts.  However, it is also important to note that the risk posed by COVID-19 cannot be completely removed.  This remains a lethal and highly infectious disease and we must remain vigilant to these risks across all healthcare settings and in all aspects of our daily lives.” 

The completion date for the Independent Panel’s final report is subject to the level of engagement with families in the months ahead and therefore cannot be confirmed at this time. The report will be submitted by the Panel to the Southern HSC Trust and the findings will be made public at that time. 

Notes to editors: 

1. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk.

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