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Royal Victoria Hospital A&E feels the strain as 112 wait to be seen

By Joanne Sweeney

Northern Ireland's main accident and emergency department has been put under pressure again after 112 people needed medical treatment in one evening.

It is believed that five people waited for almost 20 hours at the Royal Victoria Hospital's emergency department before being attended to in what was described as an "exceptionally busy Monday night."

Earlier it was reported that 112 people had been waiting at the Belfast hospital from yesterday teatime. By late last night, that had gone down to 90 people waiting to be seen by a doctor in A&E.

Fifteen patients required overnight admission.

Fearghal McKinney, the SDLP's health spokesman and member of the Assembly's health committee, questioned whether patients were being treated properly.

"The system is once more under pressure and I have to ask if enough is being done?" he said.

"For any patient to be waiting for almost 20 hours is just totally unacceptable. We were told after the major incident in January that it was down to winter pressures of flu. While this appears not to be the case now, it's a worrying trend, particularly as the winter flu pressures are yet to start."

Last night, a spokeswoman for the Belfast Trust confirmed that the situation had improved at the emergency department over the course of the evening.

She said the hospital had not declared a major incident status, but added: "It's just been a very, very busy night."

It is understood that the high volume of patients was due to a combination of people requiring treatment after weekend incidents, plus new referrals from GPs surgeries.

The hospital declared a major incident on January 8 when it had 42 patients on trolleys at its reception.

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