Belfast Telegraph

Warning Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital 'at breaking point' over bed delays

By Victoria O'Hara

Staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital have repeated warnings they are at "breaking point" as it emerged one patient had to wait 27 hours for a bed.

Under-pressure staff claimed they have been struggling in a "horrendous" environment while treating and admitting patients at the emergency department since Saturday night.

Last night there were 18 people still on trolleys and 11 waiting for a hospital bed to be allocated.

A Belfast Trust spokeswoman said: "There was one patient waiting for 27 hours for a bed." She added that staff "were coping".

But one nurse, who works at the RVH and wished to remain anonymous, slammed the response as "rubbish".

"I know of the patient who had to wait 27 hours. And I know of one elderly lady who was waiting for 24 hours over the weekend. I know there are more breaches," the nurse said. "How is that coping? No one should be waiting that length of time for a bed."

The nurse said that while additional staff have been brought in, many have not had specialist training.

"I was in tears during one of my shifts because I just couldn't cope with the stress," the source said.

"The fact is there are more nurses but they are not trained enough."

The nurse added: "People are scared to speak out. We are not coping. The problems started in October and we are still at breaking point."

Yesterday the outgoing trust chief executive Colm Donaghy was questioned by MLAs at Stormont's health committee.

Chairwoman Maeve McLaughlin said she had been contacted about concerns over extremely long trolley waits.

Mr Donaghy, who recently announced his resignation from his post to take up a job in England, said he would investigate the reports.

He also admitted that at the time a Major Incident was called in January they did not have enough nurses with the relevant skills.

BACKGROUND

The Belfast Trust called a Major Incident at the Royal Victoria A&E department in January. More than 40 people were waiting on trolleys with staff describing the unit "like Beirut". In February it emerged a delay in treatment at the RVH emergency department may have contributed to the death of five patients in 2013. The Health Minister Edwin Poots announced a review of services at the RVH by health watchdog the RQIA would be carried out.

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