Hospital problems 'are more complex'
"There is no doubt that we have a problem with alcohol abuse and addiction, however, this is a societal issue that requires a public health approach to tackle.
"It should not be left for emergency department staff to apply sanctions and would merely treat the symptom, not the disease.
"There are moral and ethical issues with such an approach in that it compromises the principle of a health service free at the point of delivery, and the non-judgemental value-base of nursing.
"On a practical level, it would require highly trained staff to check patients have not suffered life-threatening injuries.
"While we do need to look at how to tackle some of the problems in handling patients who come into our emergency departments in this state, charging patients is not something emergency care nurses are calling for.
"The problems facing emergency departments here are more complex than this issue alone.
"Our message for health service leaders is to engage with and act upon the concerns of frontline staff in highlighting the problems and in implementing the solutions that nurses and other health professionals can bring about.
"Transforming Your Care was supposed to relieve pressures on emergency departments by providing alternative 24/7 points of access to health care, particularly for older people with long-term conditions, in order to avoid unnecessary hospital attendance.
"To date, these alternative services are either just not there or are actually being reduced."
- Janice Smyth, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland.