Staffing crisis: patient dies on trolley as trust sought more nurses

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust took to Twitter to plead for help from off-duty nurses when struggling with ‘relentless pressures’ in emergency care 

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust took to Twitter to plead for help from off-duty nurses when struggling with ‘relentless pressures’ in emergency care

Photo of a sign outside The Royal Hospitals, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
Picture: Alamy

An older person died on a trolley while waiting for care at a Belfast hospital as the trust issued an urgent call to off-duty nurses to help manage ‘ongoing relentless pressures’.

Trust sent call-out for nurses on Twitter after patient died on trolley

On Sunday, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust pleaded on Twitter for ‘any available nursing staff’ to come to help as the hospital sites struggled to cope with an increasing number of sick patients.

Previously the trust had also asked parents to only bring their children to the emergency department (ED) if ‘your child has a serious medical emergency’.

The messages came hours after a woman reportedly died waiting for treatment at the ED of the Royal Victoria Hospital, which is run by the trust.

The trust later tweeted to thank staff that had worked over the busy weekend: ‘Thank you to all our hardworking staff helping us care for our patients and service users through this challenging period.

‘Staff from all areas, across all our sites; in our hospitals and the community, each play an integral part in providing care to our patients. Thank you.’

Belfast trust has struggled with staffing issues before

The trust says that the health services are facing extreme demands and pressures caused by a combination of factors, including struggling to discharge patients and high attendances.

It is not the first time the trust has been hit with staffing issues. Last year Nursing Standard revealed more than 230 nursing staff left the trust between January and July 2021, with eight intensive care nurses quitting from the same unit in November.

Referring to the patient’s death, a spokesperson for the trust told Nursing Standard: ‘Belfast Health and Social Care Trust would like to send their condolences to this patient’s family, our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

‘We have reviewed this patient’s care and spoken to their family. Out of respect for the patient’s family, we will not make any further comment.’

Conditions nurses are operating in are 'totally unacceptable'

RCN director for Northern Ireland Rita Devlin said: ‘The pressures experienced over the past few days are the worst I have ever seen. For an ED to tell people not to come under any circumstance is unprecedented. The system hasn’t just toppled over, it’s on life support.

‘Nursing staff, particularly those in EDs, are consistently working under intolerable pressure and stress. I have been in a number of EDs in recent weeks and the conditions in which nurses are operating are totally unacceptable. Trying to keep patients safe is the reality for these staff every day and it is extremely difficult to do this with the numbers of patients currently waiting on trolleys.’

Elsewhere. the Antrim Area Hospital, run by Northern Health and Social Care Trust, closed its ED to new admissions after a major incident was declared, putting further pressure on nearby services.

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