Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Thursday, 29 March 2012 11:31 UK

Health Committee

The health minister said it was not acceptable that 13 nursing posts remained unfilled at Belfast A&E departments over the winter, on 28 March 2012.

Edwin Poots told the health committee there was still a lot of work to do.

He said he expected eight of these positions "to be filled in the very near future".

In January, the BBC revealed that 558 nursing shifts were left unfilled over a four-week period in December.

Thirty-eight of those were in the Royal Victoria Hospital's A&E department.

"Over the winter period, particularly when you have the pressure, it is not that good a thing to be depending on bank or agency nurses," Mr Poots said.

The minister said there were currently 70 in-patient admissions per week above what had been anticipated at the RVH.

He also claimed the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald "had its pressures" and, on Monday of that week, it had experienced a 50% increase in admissions compared to the same time last year.

Mr Poots said work was underway to resolve the "problem" at Antrim Hospital. He said this included the recruitment of 40 additional permanent nurses and extra consultants.

Sue Ramsey, chair of the health committee, said change was needed, especially after "the bleak couple of weeks we have come out of".

Health workers and patients have been critical of the situation at the RVH since the A&E unit at Belfast City Hospital closed last year.

Earlier in March, it emerged that a 77-year-old man died on a hospital trolley at the RVH after waiting almost 24 hours for a bed.

Representatives from the Allied Health Professions also briefed the committee on the Health and Social Care Review.

The 'Transforming Your Care' report on the review contained 99 proposals representing "radical change" in the delivery of services.

Health committee membership

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