Published Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Two people waited for longer than 25 hours at the Royal A&E for beds. (© Pacemaker)
Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin revealed the long waiting times endured by the patients at a Stormont Health Committee meeting.
The committee chair questioned Belfast Trust Chief Colm Donaghy on whether there was a "crisis" at the hospital, after hearing reports that the emergency department has been under severe strain since Sunday.
Speaking on UTV Live Tonight, Ms McLaughlin said: "Whilst we have a RQIA review and we have procedures and processes being put in place, we still have the reality of today where we had people waiting 29 hours for a bed and that's simply not acceptable.
"The staff are under extreme pressure, they are extremely demoralised and the [Health] Minister and the Department in my view really need to step up to the plate on this one and need to do that with a degree of urgency because this is people's lives ultimately that we're dealing with."
The current ministerial target for emergency care waiting times states that no patient attending any A&E department should wait more than 12 hours to be either treated and discharged home, or admitted.
A Belfast Trust spokesperson confirmed that two people had been waiting on trolleys for over 25 hours, but were given beds later on Wednesday.
They said that on Wednesday night, no one was waiting over 24 hours for a bed and that the current longest waiting time was 11 hours.
They stressed that any patient waiting on a trolley would still receive care and described the situation at the A&E as "under control".
A Trust statement said: "Emergency Department services across Northern Ireland have been experiencing pressure at different times this week and it has been equally pressurised at the Royal Victoria Hospital's ED.
"It is not at all satisfactory that anyone has to wait in ED for a bed to become available in a ward and this is particularly so of those people who have had lengthy waits. We recognise that this is both frustrating for our patients and challenging for our staff.
"Emergency Department staff do everything they can to ensure patients are seen quickly and ward staff work very hard to ensure beds are made available in as timely a way as possible.
"It is to their great credit that staff have been relentless in their focus to reduce the waiting time for admissions and all those waiting a particularly long time are now in a ward. However we fully accept this is a challenge for us and one we are determined to overcome."
© UTV News