Northern Ireland

Report on A&E conditions in Royal Victoria Hospital did not go far enough say health workers

A health regulator had conducted an unannounced inspection of the Royal Victoria hospital's A&E department last November.
A health regulator had conducted an unannounced inspection of the Royal Victoria hospital's A&E department last November. A health regulator had conducted an unannounced inspection of the Royal Victoria hospital's A&E department last November.

HEALTH workers at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital have said a regulator’s report about conditions in the emergency department is not good enough.

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) had published the report in July, following an unannounced inspection last November.

It concluded that the Royal’s emergency department was operating beyond its core purpose and capacity.

The BBC report that staff have now written to the RQIA, stating they are “deeply disappointed” that there was not a greater focus on patient safety.

The RQIA has stood by the report, stating that it did recognise staff burnout and “articulate the patient safety impact of patient crowding, and reflects concerns of staff, who were clearly doing their best to provide safe care within the service.”

At the time of the November inspection, there were numerous reports in the media of patients waiting for days in overcrowded areas and in trolleys as well as long waits for ambulances.

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In a statement, the RQIA said that all five standards were breached during the inspection including fire safety, workforce, environment, infection prevention and control, and medicines management.

It added that the accumulation of these negative factors meant that staff were “less able to prevent risks translating into actual events or incidents, and resulting in harm.”

The Royal Victoria Hospital's emergency department.
The Royal Victoria Hospital's emergency department. The Royal Victoria Hospital's emergency department.

Health staff have said the report is not critical enough and also questioned why it took eight months to publish.

They also said that excessive waiting times and poor patient flow through the system was not properly reported.

The RQIA has said they publish reports in a timely way, but it was important to follow  a robust peer review process and accuracy checking.

With the volume of material to critique, the regulator also said it allowed for the Belfast Trust to draw up a quality improvement plan.

The RQIA have also said they will carry out a follow up with the Belfast Trust to verify what steps have been taken to address the issues in the report.