Ulster Unionist Party Health spokesperson Roy Beggs has learned that several staff members in the Royal Victoria Hospital have reported coming under pressure to ‘stop the clock’ to avoid breaching targets at the Accident and Emergency department. The revelation was made to the East Antrim MLA by the RQIA Director of Reviews.
Roy Beggs MLA said;
“It is unacceptable that staff working in the RVH Accident and Emergency unit should have to report to the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) that they have felt under pressure to ‘stop the clock’ to avoid twelve hour breaches at the hospital. These are extremely serious allegations.
“The Health Minister admitted in his recent statement to the Assembly about the A&E in the Royal that ‘it appears that concern about the 12 and 4 hour targets have led to some unacceptable behaviour by some staff.’
“During the Health Committee I questioned Dr David Stewart from the RQIA as to what was the unacceptable behaviour that had been reported. Dr Stewart reported that staff had felt pressurised to ‘stop the clock’ in an attempt to give the perception of improved performance.
“The proportion of patients seen within four hours at the RVH is the lowest of all A&E units in Northern Ireland. It is astonishing to think that frontline staff may have come under pressure to conceal that it was even worse.”
“These staff are already working under intense pressure and in extremely difficult circumstances. The latest revelations will do little to reassure anyone that the Health Minister or Belfast Trust are in control of the situation.”