Published Wednesday, 19 February 2014
DUP Health Minister Edwin Poots attended Wednesday's event, convened by the Royal College of Nursing to highlight ongoing issues within the health care system.
It comes after a major incident was declared at the Royal Victoria Hospital's A&E last month, and a subsequent report found serious failings - including "intolerable pressure" on staff.
Emergency Nurse Practitioner Roisin Devlin told UTV: "The main message that nurses want to get out is that they feel that patient care is at times compromised; that we are being put in an impossible situation trying to look after our patients and trying to deliver safe and effective care.
"But the other message is that nurses can be part of the solution - that we have ideas and we want to help the Minister make emergency care in Northern Ireland work."
"I am deeply thankful for the unending commitment demonstrated by Emergency Department nurses, often in difficult and challenging situations," Mr Poots said, following the summit.
"Nurses hold a unique role as you remain with the patient on their journey through health care."
The summit saw the health minister and Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle join representatives of the Emergency Care Network to take part in a discussion with an audience which included around 50 nurses currently delivering emergency care to patients at the frontline.
"I have the greatest admiration for the way in which Emergency Department nurses deal with a wide range of medical and surgical emergencies and trauma situations where you are required to draw upon a wide range of skills, knowledge and expertise to deal with both the expected and the unexpected," Mr Poots said.
You are key players in delivering a safe and effective service.
Health Minister Edwin Poots
According to the health minister, it has been agreed to take forward plans to set out key professional standards for Emergency Department nursing and to develop career pathways for ED nurses.
During the major incident at the Royal, patients faced waits of over 12 hours, extra staff had to be drafted in and some of those in the ward at the time likened the scene to that of a war zone.
The next day, hospital workers were so angry that they staged a protest and booed the health minister as he was driven away from the facility.
The report into the incident, commissioned by Edwin Poots, found some staff who claimed they were being bullied and who felt that the care system in place was not functioning as it should.
There have also been claims that reduced opening hours at A&E units in other parts of Northern Ireland have added to pressure in the Royal Victoria Hospital.
According to Janice Smyth, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland, Wednesday's summit was a timely opportunity to address concerns.
"The RCN Emergency Care Network wanted to talk about solutions to the issues we are facing and welcome the opportunity to hear from experts from outside Northern Ireland and discuss the way forward with the minister, Chief Nursing Officer, medical colleagues and managers," she said.
"The College will continue to provide leadership and support in our drive to provide better services to the people of Northern Ireland."
© UTV News