Poor communication among reasons NI care home board resigned, report says

Robin Swann says resignations could have been avoided by applying better governance

Inadequate communication, breakdowns in working relationships and deficiencies in governance were behind the mass resignations at Northern Ireland's care home watchdog last year, an independent report has found.

Nine board members at the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) resigned last June over claims they were not consulted on key decisions taken during the coronavirus pandemic.

Health minister Robin Swann ordered an independent review into the situation.

The RQIA played a key role in the struggle with Covid-19 which the independent review found created severe and unprecedented pressures.


The Independent Review into the Circumstances of Board Member Resignations in the RQIA found that “whilst understandable”, the resignations of the board members “were not necessary or desirable particularly during a time of crisis”.

Mr Swann welcomed the conclusion of the report.

“I deeply regret that the board members did not come to me and say they were on the brink of resigning. I would have taken that very seriously and I believe we could have worked together to resolve the difficulties,” he said in a statement.

However, Mr Swann said the review team is "also clear that the Department of Health cannot escape its share of responsibility for what occurred".

“It believes that if better governance had been applied between the department and RQIA this event may have been averted,” he said.

“The recommendations put forward, therefore, are aimed at providing the necessary clarity on roles and responsibilities and relationships for: a minister, for his or her officials, and for the department’s arm’s length body (ALB) boards along with their executive teams, in accordance with legislation and best practice.” – PA