The Alliance MP was speaking after visiting the Accident and Emergency Department at the Ulster Hospital, where she met with staff to discuss how they are adapting to the increasing pressures being exerted on them.
Mrs Long, who also took part in a recent similar visit to GP surgeries in her constituency to hear first-hand from health professionals about the pressures they face, said she was impressed by the work staff at the Ulster Hospital were doing despite limited resources.
“I have met with the management of the Ulster Hospital over recent months to discuss the pressures on the Emergency Department and the impact on services in the hospital more generally this creates. There is no doubt emergency workers there are operating in a highly pressurised environment and it is impressive they have managed to actually bring waiting times down, despite the growing amount of people using the hospital.
“I visited the hospital on a Friday afternoon, which as a reasonably busy period, allowed me to see first-hand some of that pressure. It is a credit to the staff and management that they have been able to deliver such a good service, despite the clear pressures of rising attendances and ED admissions.
“Working in an Emergency Department is demanding and for many qualified consultants and nurses, better terms and conditions abroad are a real draw. If we are to develop and retain enough ED specialists, the Health Minister needs a plan in the short-term to alleviate pressures on the EDs across Belfast, including the Ulster, and a longer-term strategy for emergency consultants in order to address pressures on the system.”