Poots rejects claims of A&E 'crisis'

Published Monday, 13 January 2014
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Health Minister Edwin Poots has rejected any suggestion of a crisis at the Royal Victoria Hospital following last week's major incident.

Poots rejects claims of A&E 'crisis'
Questions will be asked over pressures on A&E departments. (© Pacemaker)

On its first day back after the Christmas break, the Assembly held an emergency debate on the situation at Belfast's main A&E unit.

It comes after a backlog of patients caused 12-hour trolley waits and "scenes like Beirut" at the RVH last Wednesday evening, with dozens of extra staff having to be called in.

DUP minister Mr Poots maintains it was a one-off.

"Last week's circumstances were exceptional, and it is important not to confuse an exceptional circumstance with overall performance in the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) and Craigavon Area Hospitals' emergency departments," he told MLAs.

We do not have a crisis in emergency departments across Northern Ireland

Edwin Poots

"I just wish that our politicians and, indeed, our media would be more mature in how they assess things, because, three hours after an emergency plan was initiated, things were back to normal in the Royal Victoria Hospital."

SDLP Health spokesman Fearghal McKinney insisted the situation was aggravated by the weekend closures of the A&E units at the Downe and Lagan Valley Hospitals.

He said: "What we heard today from the Health Minister was that it was everybody else's fault - at one stage he even blamed patients for turning up to A&E.

"There are critical issues at the heart of the recent crisis and the Health authorities should be proactive in managing them. For example, if there are problems with individual patients repeatedly returning to A & E then they should be managed not blamed.

"The Minister was called to the House to explain what has been done and he was asked for an assessment of the impact of recent A & E closures on the crisis of last week.

"We didn't get that. Our health service workers do a terrific job considering they are over-worked, but it is not just praise they need, it is a minister dealing effectively with the problem."

Meanwhile members of the trade union Unison, who protested outside the Royal in the wake of the emergency, have called for an independent public inquiry into what happened.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
20 Comments
Mark in Belfast wrote (289 days ago):
Poots rejects claims of A&E 'crisis' Meanwhile, he claims the earth was made in a week and dinosaurs never existed.
Gerard K in Belfast wrote (290 days ago):
Poots has absolutely no shame! He knows exactly how much of a crisis exists within the Health Service here! Mistake number one was closing A&E in the City Hospital, less than 2 years later he closes the GP assessment/Medical assessment unit in the City also.......and what happens, crisis at the other Belfast hospitals. The man is an idiot!
John in Portadown wrote (290 days ago):
Mr Poots, I think you would need to have some medical back ground to carry out your job as health minister. It appears to me that you haven't got a clue each time you open your mouth. I think you need to spend one day in each of the Emergency department to see what it is like and make a proper judgement before you start down grading OUR health service further. It's already at breaking point with the Ageing population and the influx of immigrants as well as the obvious increase of Heath tourism. The staff carry on the best we can. Most of the time we do not get meal or tea breaks but we try to give the best service on the limited resources we can.
Confused in NI in Belfast wrote (290 days ago):
If our current politicians were less focussed on tribal politics and keeping their own nests feathered maybe we would have a better social fabric to our society. Until we vote politicians in that are committed to real problems effecting us instead of cosying up to extremist elements on both sided things will only get worse.
Councillor Gareth Sharvin in Downpatrick wrote (290 days ago):
If Minister Poots does not believe there is a crisis within our A&E services, maybe the Minister should sit down with the officials responsible for each area. They are telling us of the shortfall in A&E doctors. They do not have enough to cover hospitals like the Downe and Lagan Valley. They can not recruit new doctors for the A&E service. The Minister needs to review his A&E strategy. He needs to consider the shortfall of doctors, the pressure on RVH, Ulster and Mater after the closure of the Downe and Lagan Valley, and by reopening both hospitals will ensure we do not experience the 'major incident' in any hospitals again. #SavetheDowne
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