Northern Ireland

Belfast and South Eastern health trusts issue urgent appeal for extra nurses as hospitals face ‘extreme pressure’

The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast is among many across Northern Ireland under extra pressure to meet demand over the festive period.PICTURE: MAL MCCANN

TWO health trusts in Northern Ireland have made urgent appeals for extra nursing staff to help ease “extreme pressure” on hospitals.

On New Year’s Day, Belfast trust posted a social media appeal for any registered nurses and health care assistants currently working for the trust to report for duty.

The South Eastern trust, which includes the Ulster Hospital, also made an “urgent appeal” for nursing and medical staff to help across critical areas.

The Northern trust also said the emergency departments and Antrim and Causeway hospitals continued to be under “extreme pressure,” with long waits for those whose condition is not life-threatening or urgent, adding: “Please understand our staff are working hard in difficult conditions.”

The Western trust said that Derry’s Altnagelvin Hospital and the South West Acute Hospital’s Emergency Department continued to be “extremely busy,” with large numbers of people attending and a high volume of patients requiring admission to already full wards for further treatment.

On Sunday, the Southern trust said emergency departments were “extremely busy” and said that the out of hours service should be used for serious urgent problems that cannot wait until GP surgeries reopen on Tuesday.

Shortly before Christmas, the Department of Health had issued advice on how best to access services over the busy festive season.

“Hospital Emergency Departments are available for sudden and acute illness or severe trauma,” a statement read.

“If you think you or a loved one needs hospital emergency care, then don’t delay in seeking treatment. EDs are very busy and patients will be ‘triaged’ – to make sure the sickest are cared for quickest.”

For those who don’t need an emergency department, other options available include the Pharmacy First service in Community Pharmcies, GPs and minor Injuries units.