Ulster Unionist MLA Michael McGimpsey has welcomed tomorrow’s planned opening of the new emergency care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital but has criticised the series of bungling factors that led to the avoidable three year delay.
The South Belfast MLA said:
“Northern Ireland has by far the worst emergency waiting times of any region of the UK. During 2014/15, only 73.8% of attendances at our main emergency care departments were treated and discharged, or admitted within 4 hours of their arrival, despite the official target being 95%.
“The problems are particularly acute at the Royal Victoria Hospital with only 59% of patients being seen within 4 hours. This new critical care unit, which I signed off in 2008 when I was Minister, would have been able to prevent many of the delays. Unfortunately, however, the record of delivery from the period when the building should have opened in 2012 to now has been truly abysmal.
“The major problems in Belfast were further exasperated when the DUP took the decision to close the A&E in the City Hospital, with virtually no genuine consultation and no subsequent increase in beds or staff at the Royal.
“This new critical care building is undoubtedly a major step forward in terms of health provision in the Greater Belfast area but it’s galling that even after three years delay, much of the new building will remain shut. The delays to the new mother and baby unit for instance will have a significant knock-on impact on the rest of the hospital. In addition clarity is needed as to whether or not the new helicopter pad I also ordered will actually be up and running from Wednesday.
“There are problems right throughout our health service, but the situation is particularly severe in Belfast. There are too few nurses, consultants and GPs, so it is essential that this new critical care unit is given the resources it needs to operate effectively and safely.”