Health Minister hails hospital staff on visit to the Mater
Health Minister Jim Wells has visited the Mater Hospital in north Belfast to ask staff how they are dealing with the extra pressures facing emergency departments.
The DUP man acknowledged the "exceptionally busy time" facing the health service and all hospitals across Northern Ireland during the winter months.
"My department is facing significant financial pressures this year, but emergency departments provide vital care to the most ill and injured people and I am determined to protect such front line services as far as possible," he said.
The minister's visit came less than two weeks after the Belfast Health Trust cancelled all non-urgent elective surgery due to pressures on emergency departments.
The other Northern Ireland trusts have also cancelled some non-urgent elective surgeries.
While at the Mater, Mr Wells visited the midwife-led unit, which has seen 197 mothers come through its doors in its first year.