Northern Ireland

Royal Victoria Hospital staff 'pressured to stop clock'

Royal Victoria Hospital Image copyright PA
Image caption Roy Beggs said staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital had come under pressure over treatment targets

Staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital have reported coming under pressure to "stop the clock" to avoid breaching A&E targets, an MLA has said.

Roy Beggs said he was told of the matter by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority's director of reviews.

The RQIA carried out a review of the Royal's A&E services.

The chief executive of the Health and Social Care Board denied the allegation of "stopping the clock".

John Compton told the BBC's The View programme on Thursday night there had been "no institutional attempt to manufacture figures".

Earlier, Mr Beggs said staff at the Royal are working under intense pressure and in extremely difficult circumstances.

He said Health Minister Edwin Poots had admitted in a recent statement to the assembly about the Belfast hospital's A&E that "it appears that concern about the 12 and four-hour targets have led to some unacceptable behaviour by some staff".

"During the health committee, I questioned Dr David Stewart from the RQIA as to what was the unacceptable behaviour that had been reported," Mr Beggs said.

"Dr Stewart reported that staff had felt pressurised to 'stop the clock' in an attempt to give the perception of improved performance.

"The proportion of patients seen within four hours at the RVH is the lowest of all A&E units in Northern Ireland.

"It is astonishing to think that frontline staff may have come under pressure to conceal that it was even worse."

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