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Two major reviews by HSE-founded ‘independent panel’

A national review panel established by the HSE to independently examine the most serious incidents in social care has completed two reports to date. The national independent review panel (NIRP) has finalised two major reviews into serious events where an incident management team recommended an “independent review”, according to the HSE.

Comprised of social care professionals who do not work for the HSE, the NIRP was established in 2017 and is overseen by independent Chairperson, Ms Bernie McNally. A qualified social worker, Ms McNally has worked in a variety of practice and management positions in Northern Ireland’s social care services.

The panel was initially set up to examine serious cases of concern in disability services, but has since become involved in other domains, including mental health and older persons services.

The NIRP monitors the national incident management system to ensure all relevant incidents are considered for referral. Draft review plans are approved by the HSE National Director for Quality Assurance and Verification.

“Although the NIRP is part of the HSE it is independent of all HSE operations at both national and community level,” outlines the Executive.

“The NIRP will review cases where it is suspected that there are serious failings by the HSE and/or its funded organisations that have led to significant harm and/or have compromised the quality-of-life of the person/s concerned.

“The NIRP will seek to determine what the relevant services and individuals involved in the case might have done differently that could have prevented the significant harm or improved the quality-of-life for the person/s concerned.”

Its first review was submitted to the HSE in 2018. The report was not releasable under Freedom of Information (FoI) law due to a High Court order, according to the HSE. The subject of the report was a ward of court. A second review completed by the NIRP has been submitted to the HSE.

The report is “currently subject to the deliberative processes of the HSE” and access was refused under FoI law. This review relates to a HSE-provided disability service.

According to the NIRP’s annual report 2019-August 2020, it was completing a further three reviews. The pandemic has impacted the capacity of services to engage with the NIRP, stated the HSE’s response under FoI.

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