Northern Ireland

Steep rise in A&E waiting times at NI hospitals

Ulster Hospital, Dundonald
Image caption The Ulster Hospital had the highest number of people waiting more than 12 hours for treatment

Waiting times at Northern Ireland hospital emergency departments have shown a steep increase.

The latest Department of Health figures show that the number of people waiting over 12 hours for treatment at emergency care departments more than tripled in the past three years.

The hospital with the highest number of people waiting more than 12 hours for treatment in the past year was the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald (1,336).

Next was Antrim Area Hospital (720).

The latest figures show that between 2007/08 and 2009/10, the number of new and unplanned review attendances at emergency care departments waiting over 12 hours, more than tripled from 982 to 3,880.

In 2009/10, 42% of the 3,880 people who attended A&E and waited more than 12 hours were in the South Eastern HSC Trust, 35% in the Belfast HSC Trust, 21% in the Northern HSC Trust and 2% in the Western HSC Trust.

The Chairman of the Stormont Health committee Jim Wells said some health trusts appear to be losing control of waiting times at A&E departments.

"These are terribly worrying statistics and it seems in some areas, particularly the South East Trust, things are going from bad to worse.

"For instance not a single person in the Southern Trust waited for more than 12 hours while of course over 1,800 people waited for over 12 hours in the South East Trust

"Some trusts are getting this right and others seem to be totally losing control."

Emergency calls

Between 2005/06 and 2009/10, the number of emergency calls received by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service increased by 23%, from 106,184 to 130,756.

Meanwhile in 2009/10, 84% (585,458) of patients were either treated and discharged or admitted within four hours of their arrival in an emergency care department.

More than one in four (27%) of those who attended emergency care departments during 2009/10 were in the Belfast HSC Trust (188,928).

The figures also show that during the last five years, the proportion of category A (immediately life threatening) calls responded to within eight minutes in Northern Ireland has increased by 21 percentage points, from 51% in 2005/06 to 72% in 2009/10.

Between 2005/06 and 2009/10, the total number of attendances at emergency care departments increased by 4%, from 698,937 to 727,935.

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