by Q Radio News
The Health Minister has said he is "extremely concerned" about the recall of urology patients within the Southern Health Trust, adding it was an "immediate priority" for his department.
Robin Swann issued an urgent written statement to the Northern Ireland assembly earlier today.
It comes after it was revealed a review had been launched into the work of a consultant urologist with the Southern Trust, who no longer worked in the health service.
It's understood the consultant at the centre of the probe was located at Craigavon Area Hospital for quite some time.
Minister Swann confirmed in his statement, the Southern Trust notified his department on 31st July 2020 that it had identified clinical concerns in relation to the work of a former consultant urologist.
He also confirmed a small number of patients have been contacted, so their care can be reviewed.
"As Health Minister, I am extremely concerned about any issue that involves the potential for patients to come to harm within our Health and Social Care system.
"However, it is important to stress that the vast majority of urology patients in the Southern Trust will be unaffected by the issues that have come to light.
"I want to assure all patients and their families that the investigation into these matters will be comprehensive, and that anyone whose care needs to be reviewed will be contacted as quickly as possible.
"My Department has been kept updated by the Southern Trust regarding progress with this exercise, and I intend to make an oral statement in the Assembly as soon as practicable in order to provide further details about this matter.
"My Department’s immediate priority is to ensure that the Southern Trust completes this initial phase of work in the weeks ahead in order to minimise and prevent any potential risk or harm to patients."
The Health Minister said a Urology Assurance Group has been set up to provide "external oversight" to the Southern Trust's ongoing process and the future management plan for the issues arising from it.
"The Assurance Group comprises senior officials from the Department of Health, Health and Social Care Board, Public Health Agency, Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, as well as the Southern Trust.
"I will publish final terms of reference for the Assurance Group alongside my Assembly statement.
"If any urology patient or their carer has concerns about their treatment and would like information they should contact the Southern Trust on 0800 4148520."