Widower praises ‘kind and professional’ consultant who is subject of public inquiry

An NI businessman has voiced his shock that the consultant, who helped extend his late wife’s life by 18 years, is to be the subject of a public inquiry.

Friday, 15th January 2021, 10:01 am

The Portadown businessman praised the professionalism and kindness of retired consultant urologist Mr Aidan O’Brien.

Mr O’Brien, who was based at Craigavon Hospital, had brought a number of grievances to the Southern Health Trust in the years prior to his retirement and has been critical of the urology service provided by the Trust.

Since his retirement, the Southern Trust has recalled his patient records and Health Minister Robin Swann ordered a public inquiry into ‘serious concerns’ around the clinical practice of Mr O’Brien.

Mr Aidan O'Brien, consultant urologist.

However, the Portadown businessman, who prefers not to be named, has come out in support of the consultant, who he holds in ‘the highest regard’.

He said: “My wife was a patient under the care of Mr O’Brien for almost 20 years. She was simply referred to Mr O’Brien by her GP in 1999 and required immediate surgery.

“As Mr O’Brien cared for my wife we were always kept well informed of the various treatments available and prognosis.

“Over the 20 years, through good times and more difficult times, he remained the same polite, mannerly gentleman who made my wife feel at ease even when delivering bleak news.

“At all times he treated my wife with respect, dignity, compassion and always had her best interests at heart throughout her many treatments and operations,” said the prominent businessman.

“He always endeavoured to look for the next best treatment available for her. His bedside manner was exemplary.

“In the later months he continued to guide and support us when her illness was untreatable.

“We feel we are indebted to Mr O’Brien and believe that through his expertise he contributed to us having a further 18 years of treasured memories with my wife.”

The businessman is upset, concerned and confused at the launch of the public inquiry.

He firmly believes it is the Southern Health Trust which should be investigated and be the subject of a public inquiry.

He said: “Unfortunately for the Trust, it very much looks like a knee-jerk reaction.

“There seems to have been little consideration given to Mr O’Brien’s professionalism during a lengthy career and the stature he holds within his field by his peers and patients alike,” he said.

“I would have expected the Trust to have carried out a full internal investigation and hearing ensuring that they had gathered all the appropriate and accurate information prior to pursuing a public inquiry.

“No-one deserves to be named (and shamed) publicly unless all other avenues have initially been exhausted,” he said.

The Portadown widower said he was ‘shocked and astonished’ when he heard about the inquiry. “At no point did or have we ever doubted Mr O’Brien’s expertise, ability and good judgement.

“As a family we think of Mr O’Brien as a friend and will support him to the best of our ability to ensure his name is held in the highest regard and esteem.

“Providing our support is the least we can do to show our appreciation and gratitude for the 20 years of care that Mr O’Brien has given our family.”

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