The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Claire Keatinge, has said that she is "shocked and appalled" by allegations about care of an older patient at the Ulster Hospital.

Her comments followed reports of the distressing experience of Mrs Mary Anne Hood after it was highlighted in the media by her daughter, Dr Rosemary Craig.

The Commissioner said:

"I have met with Dr Craig today, and I was extremely concerned to hear about the experience which she says her mother endured in the Acute Medical ward at the Ulster Hospital.

"Sadly this is not a new concern, and it is yet another in a long line of unacceptable experiences of older people in their hour of need. Failures in our system mean that many older people are being let down by the very service which is supposed to support them. What will it take to convince those in a position of power that our A & E departments must give confidence, care, excellent treatment and dignity to older people?

"Older people need to be certain that if they become ill, the support, treatment and dignity that they need to care for them will be provided in an effective and timely way.

"Good quality of care and experience is essential in the treatment of older people, and we must see action to ensure that A & E services have enough staff with sufficient knowledge of the needs of older people so that they can be assured that they will be dealt with in a proper manner.

"I have asked the Trust to thoroughly investigate these allegations as a matter of urgency.

"I have called on the Minister for Health to conduct a rapid assessment of the experience of older people in our A & E departments so as to provide a clear picture of what needs to be done to give older people confidence."