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'Lessons must be learned from Rachel McAlpine case' - Kearney

3 December, 2018 - by Declan Kearney


For immediate release

03 December 2018

South Antrim Sinn Féin MLA, Declan Kearney has hit out at the failure of the Northern Health Trust in the case of local young woman, Rachel McAlpine.

Rachel McAlpine passed away on 5th November following a prolonged illness during which she challenged the standard of care provided by the Trust through private company Trackars Healthcare. Rachel left instructions for her case to be made public following her death, in the hope that others in circumstances similar to hers would benefit from a change in care provision.

Mr Kearney said:

“This is a very tragic case in which a young woman, just 26 years of age, with an acute medical condition was failed entirely by the system. 

“Rachel found herself in a situation where her only reliable option was for the Trust itself to assume responsibility for her care. For that to be rejected is a terrible indictment on the lack of compassion and urgency demonstrated by the system, as well as its inflexibility.

“I wrote to the Trust earlier this year on Rachel’s behalf and requested an urgent, exceptional intervention to address the absence of an appropriate care package and the consequence for her physical and mental wellbeing.

“However, the care system did not listen to Rachel and it did not listen to my representations. It is now essential arising from this tragic case that there is fundamental and systemic learning from what has happened.

“I believe there is also a wider question for the Trust with respect to the privatisation and outsourcing of acute care services in the case of patients like Rachel, who present with life-limiting conditions and hugely complex needs. 

“I will be writing again to the Trust to ask what measures it intends to put in place - if in fact it is amenable to learning from this tragic case - to ensure that no other patient endures what Rachel experienced.

“This brave young woman suffered deeply and eventually lost her life in circumstances where the quality and standard of care should have been better.

"Yet even in the face of her impending death, Rachel had the courage of her convictions and found the amazing strength to speak out on the importance of standing up for what is fair and what is right – now her voice will be heard. What happened Rachel McAlpine must never be repeated in the case of any other patient in the care of the health authorities.” CRÍOCH/ENDS

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