Royal Dental Hospital report

Review team highlights progress, but seven of 22 actions are still to be completed, according to RQIA report

The latest report on the Royal Dental Hospital in Belfast has praised the “positive action” taken to address areas of concern, while highlighting that seven of the 22 recommended actions are yet to be completed.

In February 2011, the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust initiated a recall of 117 dental patients after 35 people were reported to have developed cancer and four subsequently died. The consultant in oral medicine at the centre of the recall, Professor Philip Lamey, is currently suspended pending his appeal into the General Dental Council’s decision to strike him off in September last year.

An independent inquiry, published in July 2013 made 45 recommendations for improvement and a subsequent Dental Hospital Inquiry Action Plan identified 42 actions. In November 2013, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) was commissioned to undertake an independent review into clinical governance and patient safety at the hospital, centred on the action plan.

The latest RQIA report highlights that of the 22 actions, 15 have so far been completed, with a further seven still to be fully implemented. The review team noted the work already done by the Belfast Trust and highlighted the management of the recall process and subsequent improvements to the administrative processes, that it said should be “considered areas of good practice and shared with other healthcare organisations”.

The oral medicine consultant posts at the hospital are currently occupied by locums and, while the report stated that this arrangement and the establishment of a dedicated biopsy clinic have improved the service, long-term staffing arrangements and succession planning need to be reviewed.

The key areas still to be addressed included the completion of the refurbishment of the dental hospital, developing the patient and staff outcome measures and the involvement of and feedback from service users.