RCN Northern Ireland

Education and Societies

‘Merit in A&E charges’ says Health Minister

Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots has told the BBC, he believes there is ‘merit’ in charging fees to patients who end up in A&E due to alcohol or drugs. Suggesting the possibility of people paying for emergency care if alcohol or drugs contributed to their need for hospital treatment, he said: "The principle of it has merit. The implementation of it is more challenging. We need to ensure that people who need medical care are not put off receiving that medical care."

Roisin Devlin from the RCN’s Emergency Care Network said such a scheme would be unfeasible. "... my concern would be where the line would be drawn and who would decide which patients should be charged. It's not something that emergency nurses would be keen to do."

Janice Smyth, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland said: “There is no doubt that we have a problem with alcohol abuse and addiction, however, this is a societal issue that requires a public health approach to tackle. It should not be left for emergency department staff to apply sanctions and would merely treat the symptom, not the disease. There are moral and ethical issues with such an approach in that it compromises the principle of a health service free at the point of delivery, and the non-judgemental value-base of nursing. On a practical level, it would require highly trained staff to check patients have not suffered life-threatening injuries.

Consultation on revised minimum standards for nursing homes

The DHSSPS is consulting on revised minimum standards for nursing homes. The standards set out the minimum requirements that service providers must achieve and the level of service that residents and families can expect. The standards were originally published in 2008 and are monitored for compliance by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority [RQIA]. The consultation closes on Thursday 23 October 2014. In order to give RCN members the opportunity to help shape our response, a consultation meeting will be held at 17 Windsor Avenue, Belfast, on Friday 26 September from 2.00pm to 4.00pm. All RCN members, particularly those practising in the independent sector, are welcome to attend. Please contact the Corporate Support Team at cst@rcn.org.uk to notify your attendance. The consultation document can be found at: http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/showconsultations?txtid=71624