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An extra £30m to help ease Northern Ireland's hospital pressures

BY VICTORIA O'HARA

Northern Ireland's struggling health service will get an extra £30m to help relieve "key pressures", Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has announced.

Among the areas to receive the cash boost are unscheduled admissions, winter pressures and children's services.

It comes after a Major Incident was declared at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital earlier this month due to a large backlog of patients at the A&E department.

Nurses have said it is vital the money – allocated to Executive departments in the January Monitoring Round – goes to the "shopfloor and not employing more managers to manage".

Health Minister Edwin Poots, who has rejected claims the system at the RVH was in "crisis", welcomed the extra cash.

The DUP minister said it will be spent on quality and safety of services, domiciliary care services and elective care.

Scenes of chaos were witnessed at the Royal Victoria Hospital when the backlog of patients at Belfast's main A&E unit caused 12-hour trolley waits. Staff described it as being "like Beirut".

Mr Poots said: "This money will be used to alleviate significant pressures by directly helping patients."

Ray Raffety from Unison said the need for the extra money was evident of poor forward planning by the Department of Health.

The announcement comes as South Down SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie tabled a Parliamentary motion calling for the UK Government to take urgent action over the state of A&E services.

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