'No scapegoats over RVH issues' - Poots

'No scapegoats over RVH issues' - Poots

Health Minister Edwin Poots has insisted this is not the time to look for scapegoats over the problems facing the Royal Victoria Hospital.

It follows the news this week that delays in treating five people at the RVH last year may have contributed to their deaths. Three of those families were not told what had happened.Mr Poots, who only found out about the deaths this week on the radio, briefed the Executive about the pressures the A&E ward is under on Thursday.Speaking to UTV after the meeting, he said: "I don't think it has been handled well but at the same time I'm not looking for scapegoats - the buck stops here, I'm the minister and I'm in charge and if I think people have fallen short I'll tell them they've fallen short, very clearly."Last month a major incident was declared at the Belfast's main A&E department as staff struggled to cope with the amount of patients who needed treatment.The case is being investigated by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, with an initial report from the health watchdog finding that staff were faced with "intolerable pressure", some said they were bullied and the care system was not functioning as it should.A senior member of staff at the Royal's emergency department has told UTV that six consultants feel so under pressure that they are planning to leave.The whistleblower claims the situation is so bad that three are leaving the country to work elsewhere, one is off on long term stress leave and two are taking early retirement.Colm Donaghy of the Belfast Health Trust, which runs the hospital, said: "That's unfortunate if that is the case".He went on: "What I would say to you is that we have recently held interviews for consultants and while we had a small number of vacancies, we got more applicants than we had vacancies and as a result of that we have been able to offer appointments to six new consultants for our emergency departments in the Royal Victoria hospital."Edwin Poots appeared in front of Stormont's health committee on Wednesday to answer questions over the latest crisis in the hospital.During an at times heated meeting, it was confirmed the coroner has been informed about four of the five deaths and that some of the families have not been made aware of the circumstances.Mr Poots insisted the situation at the Royal is under control.Speaking on Thursday, he continued: "There are some 400 serious adverse incident cases in NI every year, not all the people involved die, so it's possibly not appropriate for me to receive all 400 - however where it involves people dying I would like to know."In terms of the five serious adverse incident reports I knew about them when they were reported on the radio and in terms of the families being informed I also learned that from the radio, so that again is something which I find unacceptable."First Minister Peter Robinson, a DUP colleague of Mr Poots, has thrown his full support behind the under-fire Health Minister, saying that more money can be provided if needed.Mr Robinson said: "I make this very clear if Edwin comes to the Executive on the basis of advice from professionals within his department and indicates that the issue is about finance then my hand will come up to give him whatever support he requires because lives must not be put at risk."Mr Poots said he has not needed to ask the Executive for more funds at this stage.


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