Northern Ireland

Royal Victoria Hospital: Health minister orders review

Royal Emergency Department
Image caption An external team of experts will inspect and review the hospital and its services

The health minister has ordered a review of services at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

It comes after a major incident was declared at the hospital last month due to a large backlog of patients at the emergency department.

The review will be carried out by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority.

An external team of experts will take part and there will be inspections across the RVH site.

Image caption Health minister Edwin Poots told the assembly of the review in a letter

News of the review emerged in the form of a letter sent by the minister, Edwin Poots, to the Northern Ireland Assembly's health committee.

Health committee chairwoman Maeve McLaughlin described the letter as "fairly significant and important".

In January, staff and patients said conditions at the emergency department were "horrendous".

The Belfast Health Trust said the move to declare a major incident was necessary to trigger more staff to come in to help clear a backlog of patients.

BBC Northern Ireland health correspondent Marie-Louise Connolly said: "Like a pressure cooker, the Royal Victoria Hospital's emergency department has been constantly simmering.

"Last month's major incident, however, was an indication it had reached boiling point with exceptional numbers waiting to be seen, and extra staff called in to work.

"In response, last week the health minister said a review would be carried out by the Health and Social Care board but that's now been changed to the regulatory body, the RQIA."

In a statement, the trust said it welcomed the review and a fresh perspective on the reforms it had carried out.

"Staff in our emergency department continue to make strenuous efforts to give their patients the best possible care in as timely a way as possible," it said.

"We would heartily welcome any opportunity improve the system they are currently working in."

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