UK & World News

  • 9 January 2014, 19:29

Royal Victoria Hospital: Protests Over A&E

Protests have been held outside Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital after a backlog at its Accident and Emergency department left 46 patients waiting on trolleys.

Some patients described the scene on Wednesday night as like a "warzone".

The hospital trust was forced to declare a major incident and scrambled to call in extra staff and opened additional beds.

Campaigners claim closures and cutbacks at nearby hospitals are to blame.

In a statement, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said: "Our staff dealt professionally and quickly with a difficult situation and within a few hours had rectified the situation.

"We would like to pay tribute to the staff who work in such a challenging and demanding environment. They work under significant pressure and at all times put the needs of our patients first."

It added: "While we fully understand how frustrating long waits can be for patients and recognise that the situation was not ideal, all steps were taken to ensure patients were safely cared for."

Rachel Brooker told Sky News that her sister was left on a trolley outside the X-ray department and that the scene was one of pandemonium.

"It was a crisis - there were beds everywhere," she said. "You couldn't move in the department. The staff were rushed off their feet, the patients were frustrated."

Northern Ireland's health minister, Edwin Poots, was booed during a visit to the hospital on Thursday.

He said the problems had been "exceptional" but that overall A&E performance was good.

Cutbacks at Lagan Valley Hospital in Lisburn, and Downe Hospital in Downpatrick, mean their A&E departments are now only open between8am and 8pmMonday to Friday.

Critics say the move is putting too much strain on the Belfast facility.

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