Urology inquiry: Private patients allegedly 'queue jumped' by Aidan O'Brien

Retired consultant urologist Aidan O'Brien worked for the Southern Trust for 28 years.

A consultant urologist has told an inquiry that his colleague's behaviour was 'immoral' after he claimed he 'queue jumped' patients with private consultations.

The Urology Services Inquiry is looking into potential governance issues within the Southern Trust and the work of one of its consultant urologists, Aidan O'Brien.

Mr O'Brien has always defended his work.

Mark Haynes is the current Associate Medical Director within surgery and elective care at Criagavon Area Hospital.

During his first day of evidence on Wednesday, he told the inquiry Mr O'Brien "was a challenge to challenge" and that he had "a fear" of bringing up his concerns with his colleague.

On Thursday, Mr Haynes continued his evidence.

He told the inquiry that he had sent a number of emails to senior management within the Trust about his concerns over Aidan O'Brien's work.

One particular concern surrounded an alleged "queue jumping" of patients that had a private consultation.

Mr Haynes said other patients were waiting up to 92 weeks and were at home "silently suffering", while others with private consultations were bumped to the top of the list.

He wrote an email to management stating that Mr O'Brien's behaviour was "immoral" and "needs to be challenged".

Six months later, he sent a follow-up email titled "Queue jumpers" and that he had "witnessed this behaviour continuing".

Counsel for the inquiry, Martin Wolfe KC, said: "You believed there was an experienced clinician breaking the rules and there were rules in the respect of the treatment of private patients and you seem to be observing that those in managerial positions didn't grapple with it, or at least if they grappled with it, they didn't do it successfully?"

Mr Haynes replied: "It just was not right. You don't need a rule to tell you it's not right."

Mr Haynes was involved in reporting five SAI (Serious Adverse Incident) reports about Mr O'Brien's patients.

He told the inquiry there were a 'significant number' of un-triaged referrals in Mr O'Brien's office cabinet.

A 64 week delay to one patient's triage resulted in a previous 'look-back' review by the trust into Mr O'Brien's work.

Mr Haynes said one patient had "red flag" symptoms of cancer, such as passing urine in their blood when they were over the age of 45, and that they were not triaged by Mr O'Brien.

He told the inquiry that the suspected cancer referral criteria was 'straightforward'.

Counsel for the inquiry, Mr Wolfe KC, also asked why the SAI reports took so long to complete - in one instance the wait was two-and-a-half years.

Mr Haynes explained that SAI reports take time and consideration, with panel members involved being "busy clinicians".

The inquiry heard that no action was taken on another patient of Mr O'Brien's with suspected renal cancer, until the patient's GP got in touch and red flagged themselves.

Mr Haynes commented on Mr O'Brien's behaviour as "a complete abdication of responsibility".

The inquiry continues.

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