Northern Ireland

Hundreds waited for 12 hours at A&E over Christmas

A AND E
Image caption At the Antrim Area Hospital, 198 people waited for at least 12 hours before being seen

Nearly 650 people had to wait at least 12 hours to be admitted, discharged or transferred from emergency departments over the Christmas period.

There was an 8% rise in the number of people attending emergency departments from 24 December to 3 January compared to the same period last year.

More than a third of patients were not seen within the four-hour target.

That means they were not triaged, treated and either admitted or discharged within four hours.

The pressure was most acute in Antrim Area Hospital, where 198 people waited for 12 hours while 128 patients had to wait the same period of time at the Ulster.

In Craigavon Hospital, 71 people faced a 12-hour wait, while in at The Royal Victoria Hospital it was 53.

'Consider other care options'

According to figures released by the Health and Social Care Board (HSC), the percentage of patients seen within the target four-hour period was:

  • The Causeway - 59%
  • South West Acute and Altnagelvin - 63%
  • Mater - 77%
  • Daisy Hill - 71%

While Emergency Departments remain busy, the commitment and professionalism of staff across the health and social care system had led to an improving situation, said an HSC Board spokesperson.

"The public can also assist us by only attending an Emergency Department if their condition is urgent, so helping to ensure that the sickest patients get the care they need," said the spokesperson.

"We would urge people to consider other care options available to them such as their GP, nearest Minor Injury Unit or local pharmacy if their symptoms are not urgent.

"Patients who present at Emergency Departments will always be dealt with in order of clinical priority, so more acutely ill patients will be seen first.

"It is regrettable that some people are having to wait longer to be treated in Emergency Departments or to be admitted to hospital at this time."

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