Extra nurses for Royal A&E

Extra nurses for Royal A&E

Forty extra nurses are to be appointed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast following an urgent review of staffing levels.

Twenty-five of the posts will go to the acute medical unit (AMU) and 15 will be taken up in the emergency department (ED).The announcement was made by Health Minister Edwin Poots on Tuesday.It comes after a major incident was declared in the Royal Victoria Hospital in January. A backlog of patients at the emergency department led to scenes likened to Beirut, caused 12-hour trolley waits and a protest by union workers.The DUP Minister then commissioned the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) to carry out an inspection of the department and a team of professionals was appointed to review the services for patients there.A full report is due in April which will include a Quality Improvement Plan setting out the proposed actions of the Trust.In the meantime, Mr Poots said that a number of actions had already been taken. These include:Action to identify immediate opportunities to improve the flow of patients out of the ED, as well as to and from the AMUReviewing the timings of key clinical meetings to ensure that specialty triage decisions are taken as early as possibleFinalising plans to implement an electronic patient tracking system as soon as possibleI am under no illusion that it will take time to make a difference. I don't expect change to happen overnight - but I do expect progress to be made.Edwin Poots, Health MinisterThe Minister said that this work is in addition to measures that had already begun as a result of a report by the College of Emergency Medicine provided for the Belfast Trust.These included the establishment of an Emergency Surgical Unit (EMSU) on the Royal site to ensure the earlier involvement of surgeons in the management of cases presenting to the ED and the establishment of a new Directorate of Unscheduled Care tasked with leading improvement and modernisation of urgent care within the Trust.The Minister said: "The problems in our EDs are not issues for consideration in the context of the emergency departments alone but need to be considered from a whole-system perspective."Often the best solutions are found outside the ED. It is vital for example to ensure that we have effective procedures in place to ensure that patients are properly and appropriately discharged."A review of the effectiveness of our hospital discharge arrangements has recently commenced. This will play a key role in informing the outcome of the RQIA's wider review of unscheduled care. The care provided to older people in acute wards will be inspected. I expect to receive the report later this year."Mr Poots also announced that a major summit by the College of Emergency Medicine is going to be held in the region on 9 April."It will bring together policymakers, key leaders in health and social care, as well as staff who work on the front line and senior colleagues from across the UK to take a whole system look at our unscheduled care systems," he said."It will ask attendees to discuss examples of best practice which they have been involved in and to share their experiences, views and ideas."Chair of the Health Committee at Stormont, Sinn Féin's Maeve McLaughlin, said she believes the minister's measures are too little too late."The minister needed to listen in the first place, he needed to show leadership," she said."In my view he was pushed and shoved to this position of acting, hopefully these actions today will bring fruit to this issue. "But clearly the minister needs to lead, that is what he is appointed there to do."


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