Belfast Telegraph

Lock the doors of Royal Victoria emergency department to tackle crisis, says senior Belfast doctor

Doctor also proposes the complete closure of the Mater's A&E

By John Mulgrew

Shutting the doors of Northern Ireland's busiest accident and emergency department to the public could be one solution to tackle massive patient backlogs, one senior Belfast doctor has said.

Dr George O’Neill has suggested closing the doors of the Royal Victoria's A&E department to the public, as a way of tackling the hospital's severe overcrowding problems.

Writing for the Slugger O'Toole website, he said patients would only have access to the hospital "via a blue light ambulance or a letter from a doctor" under his proposed model.

He also suggested the closure of the Mater Hospital's accident and emergency department entirely.

"The Mater ED (emergency department) is being kept open for political reasons, not clinical. ED staff are specifically trained to deal with trauma: they are there for car crashes, heart attacks, strokes etc," he said.

"They are not there to stitch up your finger. Everyone in Northern Ireland wants a hospital near them, but this is just sentiment. The evidence clearly shows that your ambulance is better driving past your local unit and heading to a major trauma centre."

His proposal also included the opening of a single out-of-hours unit which would be operated by GPs.

The comments come after more than 100 people were waiting in one evening for treatment – with five waiting for almost 20 hours, in September.

Additional staff were deployed  to cope with what the Belfast Trust described as an "exceptionally busy day".

Northern Ireland's main emergency department at the Royal has already faced several serious incidents of patient overcrowding.

Additional staff had to be drafted in while extra beds were also opened in order to ease pressure in January this year.

It prompted a 'major incident' to be declared.

Following the situation, dozens gathered outside the RVH in protest against what they see as critical state of services at the Belfast hospital.

To read the full article click here.

Further reading

550% rise in A&E unit patients waiting half-a-day to be treated

Union in warning over A&E at Ulster Hospital 

A&E plan to alleviate pressure on Royal Victoria Hospital urged by top doctor 

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

Depth of Royal Victoria Hospital A&E crisis revealed: 'Jaw-dropping' rise as 190 wait for more than 12 hours to be treated 

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