Northern Ireland

Basil McCrea calls on Edwin Poots to resign

Edwin Poots
Image caption Edwin Poots acknowledged there was a need for substantial change

UUP MLA Basil McCrea has called for the resignation of the health minister over problems at the Royal Victoria Hospital accident and emergency department.

The demand was made by Mr McCrea during an assembly debate calling on the minister to review A and E services at the Royal.

Mr McCrea said Edwin Poots was responsible for the "absolute destruction of the NHS".

Mr Poots has defended his position.

Mr McCrea said to Mr Poots "it's your head that should roll".

The motion had been proposed by the UUP's John McCallister, who said Mr Poots must address problems at the Royal's A and E department before they spread to other hospitals across Northern Ireland.

Mr McCallister said the system "clearly isn't fit for purpose".

'Pressure'

He said the minister should deal with the problems at the Royal before considering making changes at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, Daisy Hill in Newry, the Lagan Valley in Lisburn and the Mater Hospital in Belfast.

Sue Ramsey of Sinn Fein spoke about an unannounced visit she had made to the Royal, which is in her west Belfast constituency.

She added: "I saw at first hand the pressure not just the staff are under. I saw the pressure the patients are under and the patients' families."

Ms Ramsey said the perception was that the problems were caused by the closure of the A and E department at the City Hospital, and that there was a need to "put confidence back into our communities".

The SDLP's Mark Durkan said the A and E at the Royal was not working "and it needs fixed".

Mr Durkan referred to the recent death of an elderly man at the Royal following a lengthy wait on a trolley.

He said attendances at emergency departments in Northern Ireland were 20 to 30% higher than in other parts of the UK.

Alliance MLA Kieran McCarthy said the closure of the City Hospital's A and E department had been "a total disaster".

George Robinson of the DUP drew attention to a lack of available trained medical staff.

He said this was the primary reason for the closure of the City Hospital's A and E.

Mr Poots praised what he called "a very sensible motion".

He said the A and E at the City Hospital had to be closed because of a lack of consultants and registrars.

"Action had to be taken," he added.

He acknowledged that there was a need for "substantial change" and to consider changes to "patient pathways".

This included considering the matter of discharges and discouraging people going to A and E when they did not need to.

The motion was carried on an oral vote.

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