When I last provided an update on the work of the Inquiry on 26 June 2023, I anticipated that we would gather more evidence from patients and their families this Autumn. I asked anyone who wished the Inquiry to know about their experiences, to complete the questionnaire on the Inquiry’s website by 31 October 2023. The Inquiry wishes to give a final opportunity to anyone who believes their experiences falls within the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference to come forward, and I would again ask that they contact us no later than 31 October 2023. At this stage, it’s unlikely that any further patient evidence will be heard this year, but hearings will continue into early 2024.
The inquiry is currently hearing from clinicians who worked in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust’s (the Trust’s) Urology service. This will continue until the end of November. I have stressed both to my team and to the Southern Trust’s representatives that, while the evidence from clinicians is important to the Inquiry, I have no desire to impede the important services that they provide to the public. I believe that we have managed to balance both the interests of current patients, and the public interest in hearing important evidence from the clinicians who know first-hand, how the Urology Service functioned in the Trust during the relevant time. The Inquiry will continue to work collaboratively with the Trust to try to ensure minimal disruption to the services of the Urology Department.
Following on from the clinicians, we will hear from members of the Trust Board in December and in 2024 we will conclude our witness hearings with evidence from other bodies relevant to our work including the Commissioner, the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG) in the Department of Health.