Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson Roy Beggs has claimed the endless flow of concerns coming from the A&E unit in Northern Ireland’s busiest hospital show all the hallmarks of a Minister not in control of his responsibilities. The East Antrim MLA has also called on the Coroner to investigate the deaths of five people of which delays in the Royal Victoria Hospital may have been a contributing factor.
Roy Beggs MLA said;
“The problems in the Royal’s Accident and Emergency Unit are nothing new but the revelation of just how bad the situation has been is. By failing to inform the families of five people that delays may have directly contributed to their deaths, the management of the Hospital and the Trust acted contempt of their moral responsibilities.
“As coroners inquire into deaths that appear to be as a result of negligence it appears to me that an investigation is necessary in these five cases. By investigating the cause of death the Coroner would crucially be able to obtain witness statements and medical records.
“The passing of a loved one is already a distressing time so my heart goes out to the families of these five individuals. I understand that some may want no further contact from the hospital or the Belfast Trust but for those that do then they deserve to be told everything. The need an explanation of exactly what happened and deserve at the very least an unreserved apology.
“These deaths have tragically exposed a massive failing in the management of the A&E unit in the Royal Victoria Hospital. I have now asked the Health Minister whether he is aware of any other hospitals across Northern Ireland, but especially in Belfast as that is where the current crisis is most acute, where delays may have also been a contributing factor to any other deaths.
“The UK wide standard for A&E’s is to treat 95% of patients within 4hrs. However, during recent months approximately 1/3 of patients at the Royal’s A&E not being dealt with during the 4hr time frame. This relentless pressure, alongside staff vacancies is putting existing nurses and Doctors under intolerable pressure. The failure of the Minister and senior management to acknowledge the crisis has not helped in solving the problem.
“Whilst failing to meet targets is one thing, when the problems escalates to people possibly dying because they are not getting treated it is time for a reprioritisation of resources. Up until now the current Health Minister has done little to resolve the crisis across our A&E units. If the Minister doesn’t feel he is up to the task then he should step back to allow someone else to come forward who is.”