Cancer patient tells Edwin Poots: you're responsible for my pain
A cancer patient who endured 26 hours of "hell on Earth" in the Royal Victoria Emergency Department has called on the health minister to "take responsibility".
Yesterday, the Belfast Telegraph reported on 51-year-old Maria Gibney from Belfast who had a kidney removed as a result of cancer but the disease continued to spread and she now has secondary lung cancer.
On April 29, in excruciating pain, she experienced a catalogue of problems at the hospital.
The mother-of-one said she believes the health minister is ultimately responsible for her ordeal.
She said: "Read what I've said and then come back and say 'well, I take some responsibility for this'.
"Because you did close some of the A&Es in other hospitals and you have put the RVH in a crisis situation and nobody, nobody wants to go to Accident and Emergency now."
Mr Poots responded in full to Mrs Gibney's concerns. "I fully understand the frustration and anger expressed by Ms Gibney and I regret that she has had to face such an ordeal," he said.
"From the details in the article, this appears to be a perfect example of a patient who should not end up in an Emergency Department. However, it is very important to say that emergency care is one of my main priorities and I have taken a number of steps to ensure that such experiences are prevented from happening in future.
"I have insisted that the Belfast Trust makes the necessary improvements to its emergency care service. In my statements to the Assembly on March 18 and April 9 this year I announced a programme of work designed to help the Trust achieve this."
Mr Poots said several measures are being put in place including additional nurses being appointed – 15 to the ED and 25 to the AMU, following the completion of a review of nursing and medical staffing levels.
He said the reason for the temporary closure of the Belfast City Hospital ED in 2011 was "medical staff shortages and associated supervision and training issues".