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Concerns raised over A&E safety

19th November 2012

The BBC says it has found out "almost all" of the emergency medical consultants at the Belfast Health Trust have expressed concern about A&E department safety standards.

Ambulance

BBC Northern Ireland said consultants had written to senior managers concerning the "lack of forward planning" for the coming winter.

They also told the BBC they were worried about staff numbers, holiday and sickness cover, and the discrepancy between the A&E's seven-day working shift schedule and the remainder of the hospital, which follows a different schedule.

Doctors also expressed their anger about how an elderly person died on a hospital trolley earlier in 2012 at the Royal Victoria Hospital's (RVH) A&E department.

Many of the consultants said there was "a catastrophe waiting to happen" and they had raised issues with managers before the death occurred.

The clinical director of the RVH, Dr Russell McLaughlin, has stepped down from his role because of his concerns about the way it and the Mater Hospital's A&E departments are being managed.

A consultant, who did not want to be named, told the BBC: "When there is a visit from the health minister [Edwin Poots] or any official - it's like preparing for royalty arriving. In fact we welcome such visits because it ensures the place is cleaned and the rotas fully staffed."

"The place is a joke, managers have no idea. We believe Edwin Poots is being shielded from the truth." 

Dr Tony Stevens, the medical director of the trust, said: "There's been a huge amount of forward planning. We've opened a direct admission unit for GPs, we've expanded the size of our medical admission unit."

"We've introduced all consultants, not just in the emergency department, consultants working in the evenings as well as in the mornings, to make sure that there is senior decision making in the evenings." 

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