Paramedics unable to go to emergency calls

Last month paramedics in Belfast were forced to queue with patients for up to four hours as a result of severe bed shortages at Ulster hospital, Dondonald, Northern Ireland.

The South Eastern Trust confirmed that Ulster Hospital was operating at 20% above capacity, meaning patients were unable to receive necessary treatment.

Following the closure of Belfast City Hospital’s emergency department in 2011, Ulster hospital’s A&E has seen an extra 10 000 patients.

Despite cause for concern, health minister, Edwin Poots, denied patients’ lives had been put at risk. ‘People’s lives aren’t being compromised. People who needed to see doctors in an emergency situation – that happened.’

Chairman of the Health Committee, Sue Ramsay, argued that problems with waiting times in emergency departments had been a concern for a number of years.

‘We need to hear from the minister,’ she said. ‘The minister needs to tell us, is the action group he set up last April working? We need to hear from him and what the next step is.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 14 Mar 2013.

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