Northern Ireland

Belfast Trust have 'real problem' finding experienced doctors

Image caption Concerns were raised by medical staff in the Royal Victoria Hospital

A senior clinician has told the BBC that it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit experienced enough doctors to work unsupervised at the Royal's Victoria Hospital's A&E department.

Dr Tony Stevens was speaking after it emerged that 105 patients are being recalled having been treated at the Royal in the past eight weeks.

The matter has been referred to the General Medical Council.

Concerns were raised by medical staff who believe there may have been cases of misdiagnosis.

The files of those who attended within the past six to eight weeks are being looked at again.

The review involves the work of one doctor who was working on a temporary contract.

He has since returned to England.

Dr Tony Stevens said: "We are having a real problem with recruiting doctors who are experienced enough and who can be left on their own overnight without levels of supervision."

The trust has been unable to recruit enough middle grade doctors before and a similar problem occurred at the Belfast City Hospital two years ago resulting in it's A and E closing.

Patients recalled

Belfast Health Trust Medical Director Dr Tony Stevens said 105 letters were being hand-delivered on Wednesday morning to the patients affected.

"We've already been in touch with a few patients whom we maybe wanted to see a little bit quicker and some of those patients have already been seen. There are no immediate concerns about their well being," he said.

"There is a danger this will get out of proportion today and people will be getting very anxious, but we do not believe we have a major problem here.

"One of our consultants identified one or two cases where we felt the care offered by one of our doctors was not as complete as it should be, and as soon the management in the hospital were alerted, we decided to review that doctor's work in greater detail and we've been doing that over the last few days.

"They weren't necessarily critical tests but they were the sort of thing that we would not let go."

Dr Stevens said the individual doctor no longer worked at the trust but he had contacted the regulatory body to make them aware of concerns.

Several months ago the College of Emergency Medicine carried out an external review of the department. The BBC understands that those who conducted the review raised concerns abut patient safety and staffing levels. The review is due to be published in the next few months.

The Trust is providing an advice line which will be open from 8am - 6pm from Wednesday 26 June. The telephone number is: 028 9063 0500.

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