12 March 2014

Question Time: Health, Social Services and Public Safety 11 March 2014

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Bronwyn McGahan expressed concern surrounding serious adverse incidents (SAIs) resulting in deaths which may have been connected to waiting times during today’s questions to the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. The Minister was mindful of the importance of this issue but attempted to reassure that “the reporting of an SAI does not automatically mean that there was a problem with the quality of care provided” stating that “the purpose of the SAI system is to ensure that, if a serious event or incident occurs, there is a systematic process in place for safeguarding service users, staff and members of the public”.

The Minister was also questioned on the impact on emergency departments as a result of a shortage of beds. Dolores Kelly emphasised the problem by pointing out the difficulties at Craigavon Area Hospital where ambulances have been backed up with patients as beds have not been available for the past number of weeks. Mr Poots countered that the Southern Trust has already applied for, and received, extra beds due to winter pressures adding that “each trust and hospital will come under pressure, particularly at this time of the year, and it is important that, across Northern Ireland, we seek to manage that and ensure that other trusts step in and provide support when a particular trust is under pressure.”

The Minister also revealed the latest plans for a new Adoption Bill, his hope for a funding boost as a result of underspending in other departments and provided an update on the outcomes of his summit with the Royal College of Nursing. During topical questions the Minister further answered Members’ queries regarding the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, health centres in Carrickmore and Fintona and the Internet Safety Strategy.