ULSTER Unionist MLA Tom Elliott is calling on the Western Health and Social Care Trust to carry out an urgent review into staffing pressures at the South West Acute Hospital.

"They need to have a short, sharp review to establish where those difficulties are and allow the staff to be honest. It can't be a review that will take six or eight months, it needs to be carried out in a few weeks and it needs to be done independently. It needs to be done as a matter of urgency," he told The Impartial Reporter.

Mr. Elliott says the Western Trust must take action following claims that hospital staff and patients are finding the change tough.

"When you have a significant move there are going to be teething problems. However, when you are dealing with medical and health conditions you need to ensure these problems are minor. Patients are experiencing significant distress and while there is an acceptance that there will be teething problems it cannot go on forever," he said. A number of people have contacted the politician in recent weeks to express their frustrations. "I would hate to think that in another six months I will have more people coming to me. Every patient that has been in touch with me has talked about the pressures on staff. They feel those front-line staff are totally over-worked and don't have the time to deal with them." Mr. Elliott says he has heard claims of some staff members walking miles during their shifts - something he says he put to the Western Trust.

"I am told that some staff have been recording the distance they walk. One member of staff walked up to 11 miles on day. When I put that to a very senior Trust member he said that was 'over-exaggerated'." He believes the problem is under-staffing and says there has been an underestimate of the amount of staff needed at the new hospital, adding: "This is a matter for the management of the Trust. They must ensure their front-line staff get as much help and assistance required." Mr. Elliott added: "The issue is will they do anything about it in the end. It is fine taking it seriously and carrying out reviews but they must be prepared at the end of it to take action."