Health Minister praises dedication and contribution of staff at Mater Hospital


Minister Wells was accompanied by local MP, Nigel Dodds. During the visit to the Emergency Department, the Minister said: "Our emergency services face pressure all through the year but they come under particular pressures during the winter months. This has been an exceptionally busy time and I would like to commend all staff who are working hard to ease the pressures on our Emergency Departments.

"My Department is facing significant financial pressures this year, but emergency departments provide vital care to the most ill and injured people and I am determined to protect such front line services as far as possible."

In July last year, following the outcome of a review into unscheduled care carried out by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), the then Health Minister Edwin Poots announced the establishment of the Unscheduled Care Task Group under the joint leadership of the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer to oversee and coordinate the implementation of the recommendations of the RQIA review, and has been given the clear aim of eliminating avoidable 12 hour waiting time breaches, and making significant progress towards achieving the four-hour waiting time standard.

The Minister continued: "In order to achieve the challenging aims of the Task Group, we need to address particularly the design and implementation of more effective patient pathways for our frail elderly people and patients with respiratory conditions. To do this the whole system will have to work together including our GPs, Ambulance Service, community care teams as well as those staff who work in acute hospitals.

"The public can also play its part by thinking carefully this winter about how they use health and social care services should they or their family become unwell or have an accident. The ‘Choose Well’ campaign aims to help people gain a better understanding of the range of services available, from self-care at one end right up to 999 and emergency departments at the other. It encourages the public to choose the most appropriate option when they need help."

While at the Mater Hospital the Minister also visited the Midwifery Led Unit (MLU) which has seen 197 mothers come through its doors in its first year and also boasts the first Christmas Day baby this year.

He also visited Ophthalmology Services which deals with most of the elective cataract surgery in the Trust. This is carried out at the Mater Day Procedure Unit.

The Minister took the opportunity to speak to staff and patients. He said: "The services the Mater Hospital has provided are rightly highly valued by the people of north Belfast and beyond. I spoke to staff at all levels during my visit to these units and I was deeply impressed by their dedication and their enthusiasm to provide the best possible service for their patients."

Chief Executive of the Trust, Dr Michael McBride, also accompanied the Minister on the short tour of the hospital added: "I would like to thank the Minister for coming to the Mater Hospital and taking time to meet staff and hear at firsthand about some of the fantastic work and innovation that is taking place in our ED, Midwifery Led Unit and Ophthalmology Department."