'No scapegoats over RVH issues' - Poots

Published Thursday, 13 February 2014
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Health Minister Edwin Poots has insisted this is not the time to look for scapegoats over the problems facing the Royal Victoria Hospital.

'No scapegoats over RVH issues' - Poots
Mr Poots has talked down the pressures facing the RVH. (© UTV)

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.

© UTV News
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7 Comments
K in Armagh wrote (259 days ago):
Mr Poots doesn't seem to think 5 deaths in a year is a big issue, I wonder if one of these deaths was his mother would it be a different story. It's 5 deaths we know about I have been in and out of RVH a lot lately with my son and there are major problems all over with no beds people being sent elsewhere and staff in other wards not trained to deal with issues patients have. More money spent on hospitals and real issues rather than flags and parades would help.
Have a nice day. in Derry wrote (260 days ago):
Its the health services they will try to blame anyone under a band6..poots will blame the cleaners they always find someone. .
Alison griffiths in Belfast wrote (260 days ago):
My mum attended the royal 2 years ago , here cere resulted in a serious adverse incident investigation being completed. It was a horrendous experience one which I am happy to share. The mix up made in her case was sorted, but I'm sure there are cases where it wasn't identified. At that time in the hospital numerous areas of practice and care we're substandard.
Realist Warrenpoint in South Down wrote (260 days ago):
Is Poots for real I think he lives in a fantasy land. I have been attending Daisy Hill Hospital Newry for the last 12 months and the medical staff have been exceptional could not be more helpful and attentive. It is clear to see they have too much to do but continue on without complaint. In contrast the number of administrators pen pushers walking around with little pieces of paper in their hands to make them look busy is laughable. Do away with unneccessary administration staff and managers spend the money on frontline services. Let medical people run the hospitals not suits.
Mickinmoira in Moira wrote (260 days ago):
Really ! No scapegoats .....is that because Poots and his so called Management team made a right mess of the NI NHS ...just look at his statements ,actions body language over last 2 years ....lies lies lies .... Anyone with any reasonable reading between the lines ...will see the what the lies have lead to this .. They really are Ostriches ...now they probably think they will look good letting things break then oh dear let's show the public how good we are at rebuilding this mess ...classic management style ... Let it break then come back and fix something that should never have broke....sadly lives lost ..Now let's look at Donaghys statement about the loss of 3 consultants .....that's unfortunate ....no where does he say he s trying to retain. Them and the no doubt very exceptional skills these people have ,that's he's prepared to let them go without a fight ....sad sad sad .... No wonder were losing so many good NHS employees with this sort of management .... No doubt the person on stress leave is. Very skilled person... There's really no hope for the next generation to go I to the NHS when they see such a shambles .... No wonder were bleeding young people overseas ....shame shame ..UTv as per the norm won't print this but I am very sure Nolan will take it up .as will SKY,Aljezzer,RTE , Fox ,CNN! BBC ,Belfast Telegraph. Major news media outlets ...who will have copies of this ..... Why is there no Health Minister with a medical background in charge
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