An Assembly member who has been working shifts as a nurse has said the situation in Northern Ireland hospitals is “like a war zone”.
lliance MLA Danny Donnelly was elected to the East Antrim constituency in the May 2022 Assembly election.
While Stormont remains inactive, the former Mid and East Antrim councilor has been working occasional shifts as a nurse to keep his register active.
After finishing a shift at a local emergency department on Monday, Donnelly said the situation facing the Northern Ireland health service is “untenable”.
“It’s like a war zone; as much space as possible is being used,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
“There are sick patients everywhere; in every car and in every chair.
“Staff are under intense and unrelenting pressure dealing with large numbers of very sick patients.
“Nurses with a lot of experience in the ER have told me that it has never been as bad as it is now. It’s unsustainable.
“It seems that more patients are showing up who need to be admitted, but there are no beds to take them inside the hospital.”
Mr Donnelly said staff had asked him to raise his concerns about the situation with the Assembly Health Committee, but without an Executive in place this is impossible.
The Alliance representative called the stalemate “incredibly frustrating.”
“Some colleagues know that I was elected to the Assembly and have repeatedly asked me what is being done to address the crisis in the health service,” he said.
“The reality is that due to the lack of a functioning Assembly, we do not have an Executive, or a minister of health, or a health committee. This is not even being discussed by the MLAs.
“I have met with groups representing specialties within the health sector and they are all loudly highlighting the crisis across the health service.
“This is something we all need and we all depend on being there for ourselves and our loved ones.
“It doesn’t matter what your political view is; we need a health service that works.”
It comes as Northern Ireland’s health trusts continue to issue almost daily warnings about the extreme pressure hospitals are facing.
After calling for medical or nursing staff, healthcare assistants or porters to be available on Sunday, the Belfast Trust said again on Monday that hospitals were under “considerable pressure”.
Separately, the Northern Trust said both Antrim Area Hospital and the Causeway were under “extreme pressure”, while the Western Trust said 75 people were currently in its emergency department, with another 45 waiting, around midday on Monday. .
Northern Ireland emergency departments are now asking those who may be thinking of visiting to look for “different healthcare services” that may be helpful in the first instance.
However, all the Health Trusts have emphasized: “If you or someone close to you has a life-threatening medical emergency, please call 999 immediately or go to the nearest emergency department.”