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

By Victoria O'Hara

A plan to address serious pressures leading to overcrowding of patients in the emergency department at the Royal Victoria Hospital needs to be introduced now, a senior doctor has said.

A source at the crisis-hit emergency department claimed a plan called a 'current full capacity and an escalation policy' to help alleviate a "bottleneck" of A&E patients was created last year but has not been approved by the Belfast Trust Board.

The trust confirmed that the policy was being looked at.

"The policy is currently under review and once this is complete it will be ratified by the Trust Board," the spokeswoman said.

The comments come after more than 100 people were waiting in one evening for treatment – with five waiting for almost 20 hours. Three consultants plus an on-call consultant cover the weekends at the A&E.

Additional staff were deployed on Monday afternoon to cope with what the Belfast Trust described as an "exceptionally busy day". It did not, however, declare a major incident.

The source explained a full capacity policy and escalation call was created last winter but has still not been implemented.

"So when it gets to a particular point the 'trigger' can be pulled and we begin to move people out (from A&E to other wards)," the source claimed.

"The consultants on call in the A&E were pleading with management to institute this full capacity protocol which meant they could quickly fast-track people to get them moved."

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

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