Published Monday, 13 January 2014
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
"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